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      Is Open Access

      Substance use, injection risk behaviors, and fentanyl-related overdose risk among a sample of PWID post-Hurricane Maria

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          Abstract

          Background

          While natural disasters like hurricanes are increasingly common, their long-term effects on people who inject drugs are not well understood. Although brief in duration, natural disasters can radically transform risk environments, increasing substance use and drug-related harms.

          Methods

          Based on a study of people who inject drugs (PWID) and injection risk behaviors in rural Puerto Rico, the present study uses data from two different phases of the parent study. Data for 110 participants were collected from December 2015 to January 2017, soon before Hurricane Maria landed in September 2017; the 2019 phase, in the aftermath of the hurricane, included a total of 103 participants. The present study’s main analyses used data from 66 PWID who participated in both the pre-Maria and post-Maria interviews (66 individuals measured at two time points, for a total of 132 observations), using mixed-effects binomial logistic regression to examine recent overdose experiences pre- and post-Maria. A separate descriptive analysis included all 103 participants from the 2019 interview.

          Results

          After Hurricane Maria, some declines in injection frequency were observed (the percentage of people reporting injecting monthly or less increased from 3.0% before Hurricane Maria to 22.7% after Hurricane Maria). However, fewer PWID reported using a new needle for most or all injections. In the pre-Maria interview, 10.6% of participants indicated they had experienced an overdose during the year of the interview and/or the calendar year prior, and this figure increased to 24.2% in the post-Maria interview. In the regression analysis, the odds of reporting an overdose during the interview year and/or calendar year prior were three times as high post-Maria, relative to pre-Maria (odds ratio 3.25, 95% confidence interval 1.06–9.97).

          Conclusion

          Substance use patterns, injection risk behaviors, and overdose episodes and deaths differed after Hurricane Maria, relative to before the hurricane, yet it is unclear to what extent these changes also reflect the simultaneous arrival of fentanyl. In preparation for future natural disasters, it is imperative to strengthen the health infrastructure by enhancing access and curbing barriers to syringe services programs and medications for opioid use disorder, particularly in rural or underserved locations.

          Supplementary Information

          The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1186/s12954-022-00715-4.

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          Most cited references41

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          Syndemics and the biosocial conception of health.

          The syndemics model of health focuses on the biosocial complex, which consists of interacting, co-present, or sequential diseases and the social and environmental factors that promote and enhance the negative effects of disease interaction. This emergent approach to health conception and clinical practice reconfigures conventional historical understanding of diseases as distinct entities in nature, separate from other diseases and independent of the social contexts in which they are found. Rather, all of these factors tend to interact synergistically in various and consequential ways, having a substantial impact on the health of individuals and whole populations. Specifically, a syndemics approach examines why certain diseases cluster (ie, multiple diseases affecting individuals and groups); the pathways through which they interact biologically in individuals and within populations, and thereby multiply their overall disease burden, and the ways in which social environments, especially conditions of social inequality and injustice, contribute to disease clustering and interaction as well as to vulnerability. In this Series, the contributions of the syndemics approach for understanding both interacting chronic diseases in social context, and the implications of a syndemics orientation to the issue of health rights, are examined.
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            Loss to follow-up in cohort studies: how much is too much?

            Loss to follow-up is problematic in most cohort studies and often leads to bias. Although guidelines suggest acceptable follow-up rates, the authors are unaware of studies that test the validity of these recommendations. The objective of this study was to determine whether the recommended follow-up thresholds of 60-80% are associated with biased effects in cohort studies. A simulation study was conducted using 1000 computer replications of a cohort of 500 observations. The logistic regression model included a binary exposure and three confounders. Varied correlation structures of the data represented various levels of confounding. Differing levels of loss to follow-up were generated through three mechanisms: missing completely at random (MCAR), missing at random (MAR) and missing not at random (MNAR). The authors found no important bias with levels of loss that varied from 5 to 60% when loss to follow-up was related to MCAR or MAR mechanisms. However, when observations were lost to follow-up based on a MNAR mechanism, the authors found seriously biased estimates of the odds ratios with low levels of loss to follow-up. Loss to follow-up in cohort studies rarely occurs randomly. Therefore, when planning a cohort study, one should assume that loss to follow-up is MNAR and attempt to achieve the maximum follow-up rate possible.
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              The rise of illicit fentanyls, stimulants and the fourth wave of the opioid overdose crisis

              This review provides an update on recently published literature on the rise of illicit fentanyls, risks for overdose, combinations with other substances, e.g. stimulants, consequences, and treatment.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                rabadie2@unl.edu
                Journal
                Harm Reduct J
                Harm Reduct J
                Harm Reduction Journal
                BioMed Central (London )
                1477-7517
                24 November 2022
                24 November 2022
                2022
                : 19
                : 129
                Affiliations
                [1 ]GRID grid.24434.35, ISNI 0000 0004 1937 0060, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, ; Lincoln, NE 68588 USA
                [2 ]GRID grid.215654.1, ISNI 0000 0001 2151 2636, Arizona State University, ; Central Avenue 800, Phoenix, AZ 85004 USA
                [3 ]GRID grid.212340.6, ISNI 0000000122985718, LaGuardia Community College, , City University of New York, ; 31-10 Thomson Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101 USA
                Article
                715
                10.1186/s12954-022-00715-4
                9694860
                36424666
                30b9b656-8ae2-4318-a415-dba0d7b2f4d0
                © The Author(s) 2022

                Open AccessThis article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

                History
                : 25 August 2022
                : 15 November 2022
                Funding
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100000026, National Institute on Drug Abuse;
                Award ID: R21DA047823
                Award ID: R21DA047823
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100000057, National Institute of General Medical Sciences;
                Award ID: P20GM130461
                Award ID: P20GM130461
                Award Recipient :
                Categories
                Research
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2022

                Health & Social care
                hurricane maria,pwid,rural puerto rico,injection behaviors,risk environment,health disparities,fentanyl,overdose

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