Home > Private lives - public issues: an investigation into the health status of female drug users.

Lawless, Marie (2003) Private lives - public issues: an investigation into the health status of female drug users. In: Pieces of the jigsaw: six reports addressing homelessness and drug use in Ireland. Dublin: Merchants Quay Ireland. 4 - 78.

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The health status and health care needs of female drug users attending an eight-week pilot women's health project at Merchants Quay Ireland in 2001 were examined by means of detailed medical assessment and collection of self-reported information. A focus group at the outset ascertained levels of interest among the cohort of women and informed the design of the project; 17 participants completed a health information form and took part in individual semi-structured interviews; and a medical assessment form was completed by the medical practitioner.

The majority of the participants were aged under 30, and had child-care responsibilities; 65 per cent reported being currently 'out of home'. Heroin was the primary drug of choice and injecting the preferred route of administration; 15 clients had commenced their injecting careers before the age of 25; 13 were polydrug users; 13 were currently taking prescribed methadone; 8 had a regular sexual partner who was an injecting drug user; 65 per cent (n=11) reported being hepatitis C positive at the time of interview.

This study found that female drug users are aware of and concerned about their overall health and well-being; and that a complex relationship exists between their need for and use of health services. Access to and participation in a range of medical services by female drug users can be limited by factors such as the perceived insensitivity of service providers and negative attitudes among healthcare professionals. By minimising existing harmful behaviour and providing the female drug user with appropriate follow-on support and access to medical services, such clients may be helped to maintain stability.

Item Type
Book Section
Publication Type
Irish-related, Book
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco), Opioid
Intervention Type
Harm reduction
Call No
MK10.6., AA2, VH4.2.
Page Range
4 - 78
Merchants Quay Ireland
Place of Publication
includes bibliographic references, graphs, tables
Accession Number
HRB 2884 (Available)
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