Understanding preferences for substance use health services for problematic alcohol use during the COVID‑19 pandemic
The COVID‑19 pandemic has brought about numerous negative mental health effects and created many new barriers for accessing substance use health services. Various public health guidelines, such as physical distancing and mobility restrictions (lockdowns and stay-at-home orders), have contributed to reducing critical harm reduction services, counselling, and psychotherapy. This alludes to the study’s goal to understand how substance use health services for problematic alcohol use (PAU) should be designed during the COVID‑19 or future pandemics. Considering the above, those with lived experiences must be involved in the design of mental health and addiction services to ensure that such services are relevant and responsive to the needs of populations. Therefore, this study will describe individuals’ preferred characteristics of substance use health services for PAU, assess how the pandemic may affect their preferences, and evaluate the relative importance of the preferred characteristics. This study will use qualitative and quantitative research methods, such as literature review, interviews, and a national online survey. The study will account for participants’ socio-demographic information, including but not limited to sex, gender, in the design, analysis and knowledge translation steps. Understanding preferences could help policymakers and service providers redesign substance use health services to meet the needs and improve the health outcomes of individuals with PAU, ultimately improving their quality of life.