Knowledge dissemination efforts of peer engagement research: Reframing the language of the opioid crisis


  • Jane Buxton
    University of British Columbia
  • Travis Lupick
    Georgia Straight


  • Lindsay Shaw
    University of Victoria

The media can greatly influence how the public perceives people who use drugs (PWUDs). With the escalating opioid epidemic in British Columbia, reframing how one thinks about and describes PWUDs is key to reducing the stigma of drug use, and the subsequent reluctance of PWUDs in accessing health services. While stigma surrounding drug use has traditionally served as a deterrent, it is becoming increasingly recognized that the stigmatization, discrimination and isolation of PWUDs has led to poorer health outcomes and further marginalization. Hence, a need to address the language surrounding substance use disorders and drug addiction and those who use drugs has emerged.

Co-developing with local and regional journalists in BC (knowledge users), Dr. Jane Buxton (research co-lead; BC Centre for Disease Control and University of British Columbia) and her team will attempt to translate innovative peer engagement research to optimize uptake by journalists, and reframe the language used to describe PWUDs. Peer engagement can be defined as the active participation of people with lived experience of substance use in research and policy decision-making processes. Key elements and potential outcomes of knowledge transfer activities include: