Digital Health Solutions to Support Women with Addiction During COVID-19: Applying a Gender- and Trauma-Informed Lens

Quilty, Lena C | $50,000

Ontario Centre for Addiction and Mental Health 2020 CIHR Operating Grant

The COVID‑19 global pandemic has had extensive impacts on the mental health and substance use of Canadians. The healthcare system has rapidly adapted current models of care, primarily through the use of digital health platforms and supports. Digital health resources for women with substance use difficulties are critical during this time. Current guidelines have highlighted the importance of gender- and trauma-informed treatment of addiction in women. The goal of the current project is to evaluate whether existing digital health resources for addiction uphold gender- and trauma-informed principles, and to identify needs or opportunities to adapt and/or implement these resources. The current project therefore promises to build capacity in the healthcare system to support women with addiction, who face unique barriers to care. First, we will conduct a Rapid Review to evaluate the evidence for digital health resources for addiction, in those who identify as women and/or who disclose a history of trauma. Second, we will evaluate the degree to which digital health resources for addiction can be characterized as gender- and trauma-informed. A Final Report and Knowledge Mobilization Plan, including a high level summary of resources with strong gender- and trauma-informed principles and a series of recommendations for next steps in service development and implementation, will be shared with knowledge users. A Knowledge User Needs Assessment will then refine these materials. In conclusion, in addition to developing a review and database of digital health resources for women with addiction, this work will highlight digital health gaps and potential gender inequities, providing an opportunity for the adaptation of digital tools or the development of new virtual programming in this area. In essence, this proposal will bring together best practices in virtual care with best practices in trauma and addictions care for women, for immediate use during the COVID‑19 global pandemic.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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