Awareness and Acceptance of Harm Reduction Services in a Nigerian Psychiatric Hospital: Patients’ and Family Caregivers’ Perspective
Introduction: There are burgeoning data on harm reduction services (HRSs) as a viable alternative to the traditional means of dealing with substance abuse in the developed countries. Despite the numerous benefits, its awareness and acceptability in developing economies such as Nigeria have been constrained by sociocultural and political factors. However, the specific patients’ and caregivers’ barriers to its uptake have not been evaluated in Nigeria.
Aim: This study aimed to examine the awareness and acceptability of HRS among patients and caregivers in Enugu, South‑Eastern Nigeria.
Materials and Methods: This study was a descriptive survey of patients with substance use disorders and their family caregivers at Enugu. Awareness and acceptance of HRS were assessed using questions adapted from the harm reduction survey.
Results: The majority of patients and caregivers (76.5% and 88.2%, respectively) were not aware of HRS. Compared to family caregivers, the patients were more likely to rate themselves more favourably disposed to accepting HRS (U = 2750.00, p < 0.001). The common reasons given for accepting HRS among the patients were centered on autonomy and the unrealistic nature of abstinence. The reasons for rejection by family caregivers were hinged on encouraging use, community resistance, and scandals to the family.
Conclusion: This study highlighted the low awareness of both patients and their caregivers to the availability of HRS as a treatment option in Nigeria. It is hoped that these findings will provide some invaluable data to policy makers and clinicians in designing policies and in public education to improve service utilization by the public.