- 1School of Medicine, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK.
- 2Directorate of Public Health, NHS Tayside, Dundee, UK.
- 3Department of Gastroenterology, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee, UK.
Background and aim: People who inject drugs are at high risk of contracting hepatitis C (HCV). The introduction of direct acting antiviral (DAA) drugs to treat HCV has the potential to transform care; however, uptake of DAAs has been slower than anticipated. The strong link between HCV and injecting drug use frames HCV as a shameful, stigmatising disease, reinforcing an 'addict' identity. Linking HCV care to a recovery journey, 'clean' identity and social redemption may provide compelling encouragement for people to engage with treatment and re-evaluate risk and behaviours, reducing the incidence of HCV re-infection. The aim of this review was to identify actions, interventions and treatments that provide an opportunity for a change in identity and support a recovery journey and the implications for HCV care.
Methods: Databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, ProQuest Public Health, ProQuest Sociological Abstracts, CINAHL and Web of Science) were searched following our published strategy and a grey literature search conducted. A narrative synthesis was undertaken to collate themes and identify common threads and provide an explanation of the findings.
Results: Thirty-two studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The narrative synthesis of the studies identified five over-arching analytical themes: social factors in substance use and recovery, therapeutic communities, community treatment, online communities, and finally women and youth subsets. The change from an 'addict' identity to a 'recovery' identity is described as a key aspect of a recovery journey, and this process can be supported through social support and turning point opportunities.
Conclusions: Recovery from addiction is a socially mediated process. Actions, interventions and treatments that support a recovery journey provide social connections, a recovery identity and citizenship (reclaiming a place in society). There is a gap in current literature describing how pathways of care with direct acting antivirals can be designed to promote recovery, as part of hepatitis C care.