Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Science




Oudshoorn, Abe


Within supervised consumption sites (SCSs), injection support is limited for dependent injectors. Nurse-assisted injection has the potential to improve services for this vulnerable population by ensuring more reliable support. This study aimed to understand dependent injectors’ lived experiences at SCSs, while exploring the potential benefits and challenges of nurse assistance from their perspective. An in-depth case study methodology, guided by critical social theory, was used to explore the research questions at a site located in Ontario, Canada. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five participants, who identified the site of study as a safe space to receive injection support. Furthermore, the findings highlight the need for nurse-assisted injection and outline the potential benefits and challenges of this practice including further harm reduction, improved service efficiency, injector liability, and potential for violence against nurses. The findings of this study may inform future inquiry into nurse-assisted injection, along with policy change and practice implementation.

Summary for Lay Audience

Widespread opioid use is a public health crisis, resulting in many harms and deaths across Canada. Supervised consumption sites (SCSs) are an important harm reduction strategy for managing this crisis; however, sites are often inaccessible for people who require assistance with drug injection, termed “dependent injectors”. Dependent injectors cannot self-inject, so they often receive unreliable assistance from peers. As a result, they experience higher rates of drug-related harms including infections and violence compared to those who self-inject. Nurse-assisted injection, a practice whereby nurses directly support drug injection, has potential to address this health inequity.

This study aimed to explore harm reduction services, including nurse-assisted injection, from the perspective of dependent injectors. The research objectives were: 1) to explore dependent injectors’ experiences with SCSs. 2) to understand the potential benefits and challenges of nurse-assisted injection according to dependent injectors. Guided by these objectives, in-depth interviews were conducted with five dependent injectors at the site of study, located in Ontario, Canada. Findings included participants’ positive experiences at the site and the need for more reliable injection support, along with the potential benefits and challenges of nurse-assisted injection including reductions in harms, improved service efficiency, injector liability, and violence against nurses. Informed by these findings, the study proposes considerations for practice implementation and future research directions.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Available for download on Saturday, August 31, 2024