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Bacterial infections and social determinants of health with Thomas Brothers

Season 2, Ep. 6

In this episode Ben Scher talks to Dr Thomas Brothers about his qualitative systematic review looking at infections from injecting drug use. Tommy and Ben talk about bacterial and fungal infections and how social and structural factors can have a detrimental impact on access to treatment and health outcomes for people who use drugs. Tommy discusses the differences between countries, highlighting that the prevalence of injecting drug use is not always matched by increases in infections from injecting drug use. They talk about the influence of fentanyl, changes in drug use, drug supply and drug policy, whilst noting that the study found increases in bacterial infections that could not always be explained by these factors.


In many of these countries there's been worsening economic and equality, worsening homelessness and our findings suggest that those sorts of economic policy factors are playing a big role in making people vulnerable to infections.


Tommy also talks to Ben about conducting a qualitative systematic review, discussing the three steps of using thematic synthesis methods.


Original article: Social and structural determinants of injection drug use-associated bacterial and fungal infections: A qualitative systematic review and thematic synthesis by Thomas D. Brothers and colleagues. Published in Addiction (2023)

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