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ACE (Access, Care and Empowerment) Mobile App Evaluation

Year

2021

Project status

Planning.

Ethics approval

The project is currently being reviewed by the Curtin University Human Research Ethics Committee.

Investigators

Dr Roanna Lobo (Curtin University), Dr Kahlia McCausland (Curtin University), Ms Karina Reeves (Curtin University). 

Brief overview

Needle and syringe programs (NSPs) are based on an evidence-based, harm reduction approach and are a central plank in the public health response to HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B prevention and control. NSPs provide the best opportunity to connect with people who inject drugs (PWID) to offer education and brief interventions on harms associated with injecting drug use and referral to other services, and may also provide some health care services for PWID. 

The Western Australian Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program (WA SHBBVP), WA Department of Health, received Methamphetamine Action Plan (MAP) funding to design and pilot test a mobile app specifically designed for PWID - the Access, Care and Empowerment (ACE) app. The ACE app is part of a targeted social marketing strategy to raise awareness of Western Australia's NSPs, providing geo-mapping functionality of service locations for PWID, including NSP and needle and syringe exchange program (NSEP) locations; and harm reduction information, including self-care strategies to moderate the impact of methamphetamine use. Launched in December 2020, the pilot project will run until the end of June 2022.

SiREN has been commissioned by the WA SHBBP, WA Department of Health, to evaluate the impact of the ACE mobile app. The impact evaluation will comprise three components:

  1. A repeated cross-sectional survey of PWID accessing NSP services and/or using the app to provide a snapshot at two time points.
  2. A comparison of occasions of service and distribution of equipment provided by NSPs before and after launching the app.
  3. A summative analysis of app analytics/trends after 18 months to monitor the uptake of the app and changes in app usage as a result of app promotional activities and app improvements initiated during the pilot.

Aim

The ACE mobile app aims to provide education and harm reduction to PWID (e.g. information about:
safer injecting and vein care, overdose risk reduction, blood-borne virus transmission, methamphetamine toxicity, steroids, and performance-enhancing drug abuse), improve primary access to NSPs and NESPs and improve secondary access and referrals to other health services.

SiREN aims to assess the impact of the ACE app on PWID who do and do not use the app and provide data to assist in determining the receptiveness and feasibility of a targeted mobile app strategy for PWID.

How to participate

If you are over the age of 18, currently reside within Western Australia, own or have access to a smartphone and have injected drugs in the last 12 months you are eligible to participate in this research and complete the short survey. If you are interested in participating, please contact the Project Coordinator.

Project outputs and impacts

The anticipated outcome of the research is to determine the receptiveness and feasibility of a targeted mobile app strategy for PWID. Further, it is expected that the research will provide data responding to the findings of the MAP Taskforce Final Report, which recommended promoting greater awareness of NSPs to people who need these services.

Contact

Please contact Kahlia McCausland (Project Coordinator) for further information or to express your interest in participating. E: kahlia.mccausland@curtin.edu.au. P: (08) 9266 7382.

Download the ACE mobile app

You can download the app at www.healthywa.gov.au/ace, via the App Store or Google Play.