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Adverse childhood experiences and risk behaviours in people who use injection drugs



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Adverse childhood experiences-including parental and familial factors such as parental substance abuse, parental mental health problems, parental incarceration, parental unemployment and family violence, and personal factors such as physical, sexual, and emotional abuse- have been shown to strongly affect health risk behaviours in adulthood in the general population and are thus important in the health status of an individual. However, studies of people who use injection drugs have generally focused on disease seroprevalence and risk behaviours without considering their psychosocial histories. In the 2000 Regina Seroprevalence and Risk Behaviours Study, 255 people who use injection drugs completed a standardized, confidential, and anonymous interview which included questions on adverse childhood experiences and injection-related and sexual risk behaviours. Associations among and between participants' reported adverse childhood experiences and subsequent risk behaviours were tested. Demographic factors were also considered, and general linear models of factors associated with risk behaviours were developed. The rates of adverse childhood experiences and risk behaviours reported were very high. Several of the adverse childhood experiences studied were related to increased risk behaviours. The factors associated with injection-related risk behaviours were similar to those associated with sexual risk behaviours. The impact of adverse childhood experiences on risk behaviours was found to be cumulative; the more adverse childhood experiences the participants reported, the more risk behaviours they also reported. This information provides a unique opportunity to address these problems in the treatment and prevention of injection drug use. Supplementary research is needed to further elucidate the factors associated with high-risk behaviours in people who use injection drugs.



psychosocial history, intergenerational transmission of risk, parental violence, abuse, HIV risk



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Community Health and Epidemiology


Community Health and Epidemiology


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