Improving opioid treatment services for young people in BC: Key findings from a community-based and co-design study with young people, parents/caregivers, and service providers

Opioid use treatments for young people have been traditionally based on adult-oriented models. What do you think was learned when we asked young people, their families, and service providers to re-imagine these services based on youths’ needs?

This symposium will share key learnings from the Improving Treatment Together (ITT) Project, a two-phase community-based participatory study that is applying co-design methods to inform the development and implementation of youth-centred opioid use service interventions.

Phase 1 engaged youth, parents/caregivers, and service providers in nine separate workshops in Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, and Prince George. Findings will be shared from the ‘Discovery’ and ‘Design’ workshop sessions focusing on participants’ experiences and needs in opioid treatment services. Subsequently, youths’ co-developed ideas for improving treatment experiences and outcomes will be presented. This symposium will stimulate critical health services and policy-related discussions about solutions to improve the quality of opioid treatment services for youth.

Presenters and slide deck

Christina Katan

Christina is a Knowledge Broker at CCSA (Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse). She takes a special interest in applying co-design methods and community engagement to improve youth substance use treatment services, including as part of the Improving Treatment Together Project.

Kirsten Marchand

Kirsten (pronouns she/her) is a post-doctoral research fellow with training in population and public health and health services research. Kirsten applies these skills to substance use research, where she is passionate about person-centred care innovations and empowering people to be more active partners in their mental health and substance use treatment journeys. When not at her desk, Kirsten is usually chasing her 4-year old kid around the forest.

Katrina Marie Pellat


Kirsten Marchand- Foundry-Improving Opioid Treatment Services with Young People in British Columbia.pdf

Key Learnings

  • The ITT project is using co-design processes in the context of a community-based participatory project to identify opportunities for improving opioid treatment services for youth.
  • Themes from youth, parent/caregiver, and service provider’s experiences with opioid use treatments have shown similar challenges in finding appropriate services and supports for youth using opioids (e.g., knowing where to look for help, waiting times, stigma)
  • Young peoples’ ideas for improving opioid treatment services converged around three themes: welcome and safe clinical environments; respectful and continuous relationships with service providers; and services that can address young people’s health and psychosocial needs

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