Human blood-to-blood contact has several health implications. Common diseases that affect people through such contacts include HIV and Hepatitis C (Hepatitis Australia 2014). Blood-to-blood contact may happen in several ways, but Injecting drug use concerns health care workers the most (Hepatitis Australia 2014). Indeed, minimising the incidence of blood-based viral infections, such as hepatitis C, mainly depends on effective policies regarding injecting drug use. The Australian government has adopted a harm-minimisation strategy (NSP Program) as the cornerstone of its injecting drug use policy. However, this policy is controversial.
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Rationale of the Research
The Australian NSP program is controversial because of negative media messages that associate it with increased drug use (Chen et al. 2005). They have caused the closure of many NSP outlets in some communities, thereby forcing the government to relocate some outlets to communities that are more receptive to its interventions (Hughes, Lancaster & Spicer 2011). The media affect public perceptions of such health programs because they play a powerful role in shaping people’s attitudes and opinions about them. This analogy closely relates to how some survey questions shape people’s attitudes about public health interventions.
To investigate if survey designs affect people’s views about health services
- Do the media influence people’s opinions on harm reduction strategies?
- How do survey designs influence people’s attitudes towards harm reduction strategies?
- The language and phrasing of Items regarding sensitive social issues affect individual social responses
- The media shape people’s attitudes about harm reduction strategies in public health
Importance of Study
The findings of this study would be useful to legislators, community members, and public health officials because they could help to formulate interventions for reducing the incidence of Hepatitis C and other blood-based infections. Furthermore, the findings of this paper would add to the growing body of research regarding harm reduction strategies in public health.
For a long time, healthcare programs have excluded harm reduction strategies. Recently, experts introduced it as a method for reducing the negative health outcomes of illicit drug use (Taylor 2008). Harm reduction strategies involve an array of services that do not require injecting drug users to stop using drugs (Pates, McBride & Arnold 2005). Instead, the intervention minimises the risks associated with such interventions, such as medically supervised injecting centres, providing pill-testing kits, and providing harm-reduction education materials (among others). These materials would often educate the public about the benefits of adopting safer injecting practices.
Australia has had several harm-reduction interventions (Hepatitis Australia 2014). However, the most common one is the needle and syringe program (NSP), which includes the establishment of shop front styled outlets around the country to provide injecting drug users with vital information about safer drug injecting practices. Located in many inner-city urban environments that have a high population of injecting drug users, such outlets also provide drug users with vital information about safe equipments to use when injecting drugs (Hopwood et al. 2010). When the program started, the law required drug users to exchange their used syringes for new ones (Matthew-Simmons, Love & Ritter 2008).
However, as it evolved, the government relaxed these requirements and allowed injecting drug users to receive such equipments freely. This intervention yielded many positive health outcomes, including reduced Hepatitis C transmission rates and a reduced healthcare budget (Judith 2008). However, the most valuable benefit that emerged from its use was an affirmed positive behavioural change among injecting drug users. In other words, the users showed that they could embrace positive health interventions for minimising the risk of disease transmission (Smith et al. 2006). Overall, the NSP has become a model health intervention in other countries because it has demonstrated the potential of providing “safe” health equipments and highlighted the benefits of educating the public about communicable diseases.
The proposed study will use a mixed method research design. This approach uses both quantitative and qualitative research approaches and is appropriate for the proposed study because it provides an in-depth understanding of the respondents’ views. Lastly, it offsets the weaknesses of each research method (qualitative and quantitative research methods) (Pearson, Parkin & Coomber 2011).
The proposed paper intends to use two survey instruments to gather people’s opinions about language use and item phrasing, as tools for shaping people’s responses about the research question. Although the paper will mainly rely on quantitative data to formulate the research findings, it will also include short interview questions for clarifying the responses provided in the quantitative section.
This way, the method would help to interpret the study’s findings. By extension, this analysis would also provide vital information about people’s support for harm reduction services in Australia. The surveys would probe the respondents’ knowledge about hepatitis C. In the same breadth of analysis, the surveys will also seek to understand the respondents’ views about transmission risks, available treatment options for the disease, and the implications of these risks to the quality of human life.
The proposed study would sample two groups of respondents. The first set of research participants would include 15 social researchers. The second sample would involve a group of 50 students from the University of New South Wales. The findings from each group would be used crosscheck the other.
To gain a deep understanding of the research views, this paper proposes to use the SPSS tool for analysing data.
Reducing the prevalence of hepatitis C requires innovative strategies. Creative interventions are more important in this analysis because the proposed study aims to understand Hepatitis C transmission in a vulnerable group (injecting drug users). However, the success of such strategies depends on how well people embrace them. This paper shows that the media play an instrumental role in shaping people’s views about harm reduction strategies.
Based on this understanding, it also proposes to understand how survey designs influence people’s views about harm reduction strategies. To do so, the proposed study plans to use a mixed method research design. The data collection process would also involve interviewing and surveying two sets of respondents. The SPSS analysis will analyse their findings to provide a proper understanding of the research questions.
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The findings of this study would be important in influencing policy decisions about public health interventions. Therefore, legislators, community members, and public health officials would find this study useful in formulating interventions for reducing the incidence of Hepatitis C and other blood-based infections. Lastly, the findings of this paper would add to the growing body of research regarding alternative public health interventions. Particularly, it will add to the growing body of knowledge regarding harm reduction strategies.
Chen, J, Smith, B, Loveday, S, Bauman, A, Costello, M, Mackei, B & Chung, D 2005, ‘Impact of a mass media campaign upon calls to the New South Wales Hep C Helpline’, Health Promotion Journal of Australia, vol. 16 no. 1, pp. 11-14.
Hepatitis Australia 2014, About Hepatitis C. Web.
Hopwood, M, Berner, L, Frankland, A & Treloar, C 2010, Assessing Community Support for Harm reduction Services: Comparing Two Measures, National Center in HIV Research, Sydney.
Hughes, E, Lancaster, K & Spicer, B 2011, ‘How do Australian News Media depict Illicit Drug Issues? An analysis of Print Media reporting across and between Illicit Drugs’, International Journal Of Drug Policy, vol. 22 no. 1, pp. 285-291.
Judith, P 2008, ‘Hepatitis C and the Australian new Media: A Case of Bad Blood Continuum’, Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, vol. 22 no. 3, pp. 385-394.
Matthew-Simmons, F, Love, S & Ritter, A 2008, A Review Of Australian Public Opinion Surveys On Illicit Drugs, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Sydney.
Pates, R, McBride, A & Arnold, K 2005, Chapter 11 – Safer Injecting: Individual harm reduction Advice in Injecting Illicit Drugs, Blackwell Publishing, London.
Pearson, M, Parkin, S & Coomber, C 2011, ‘Generalizing Applied Qualitative Research On Harm Reduction: The Example Of A Public Injecting Typology’, Contemporary Drug Problems, vol. 38 no. 1, pp. 61-65.
Smith, B, Bauman, A, Chen, J, Loveday, S, Costello, M, Mackie, B & Dore, G 2006, ‘Hepatitis C in Australia: Impact of a Mass media Campaign’, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 31 no. 6, pp. 492-498.
Taylor, S 2008, ‘Outside the Outsiders Media representation representations of Drug Use’, Probation Journal, vol. 55 no. 4, pp. 369-387.