180637 Towards a methodological shift in the representation of neighbourhood for vulnerable urban population studies: The example of Montréal injection drugs users

Monday, October 27, 2008: 8:50 AM

Mélissa Généreux, MD, MSc , Département de médecine sociale et préventive, Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada
Julie Bruneau, MD, MSc , Research Centre, Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada
Mark Daniel, PhD , School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Studies on local neighbourhoods and the health of vulnerable urban populations (e.g., injection drug users, prostitutes, or unemployed adults) most often utilise administrative data and represent neighbourhood as the aggregated characteristics of residents of census tracts or like groupings. These large, administratively fixed boundary areas may be too broad to adequately capture immediate relevant environmental conditions which for specific vulnerable populations can vary at smaller spatial scales. Administratively defined boundaries also present no meaningful basis for coding exposures as relevant area features can be near dwellings yet on the other side of artificial boundaries. Local areas determined using buffer radii centred on an individuals' dwelling place offer a potentially more meaningful way to represent the immediate functional environments of specific vulnerable urban populations. Such individuals often spend large amounts of time in public or private spaces in the vicinity of their dwelling place. As an illustration of this method, we report a recent study on neighbourhood characteristics and injection risk behaviours among injection drug users (IDUs) in Montréal. Neighbourhoods were represented as 500 metre radius buffer zones centred on the IDU's usual dwelling place. The high magnitude of influence of neighbourhood characteristics on injection risk behaviours in Montréal, compared to results from other published studies using different methods, suggests the utility of defining neighbourhood as a circular buffer around the IDU dwelling place. For vulnerable populations such as IDUs, a viable approach to conceptualising local neighbourhood is centring the individual within their immediate local area.

Learning Objectives:
1) Identify different methods used for neighbourhood representation 2) Suggest an innovative method for neighbourhood representation suitable to vulnerable urban populations studies 3) Illustrate this method through the report of a study on neighbourhood characteristics and injection risk behaviours among urban injection drug users

Keywords: Drug Injectors, Geographic Information Systems

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the fisrt author for the present study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.