Correlates of Public Support Toward Federal Funding for Harm Reduction Strategies

Published in: Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 2015

Posted on on July 22, 2015

by Magdalena Kulesza, Bethany A. Teachman, Alexandra J. Werntz, Melissa L. Gasser, Kristen P. Lindgren

Read More

Access further information on this document at Substance Abuse Treatment

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

BACKGROUND: Historically, US federal policy has not supported harm reduction interventions, such as safe injection facilities (SIFs) and needle and syringe programs (NSPs), which can reduce the burden associated with injection drug use. Given recent increases in abuse of both legal and illegal opioids, there has been a renewed debate about effective ways to address this problem. The current study (1) assessed participants' support for SIFs and NSPs, and (2) evaluated several demographic factors (e.g., age, gender, race, education, political ideology, and religiosity) and individual differences in stigmatizing beliefs about people who inject drugs (PWID) that might relate to support for these interventions. METHODS: U.S. adults (N = 899) completed a web-based study that assessed self-reported support for NSPs and SIFs, and stigma about PWID. RESULTS: The majority of participants were at least somewhat supportive of both NSPs and SIFs. Regression analyses indicated greater support for NSPs and SIFs was predicted by more liberal political ideology, more agreement that PWID deserve help rather than punishment, older age, and male gender. Also, participants who endorsed lower stigma about PWID were more supportive of NSPs and SIFs. Race, religiosity, and education did not predict support for NSPs and SIFs. CONCLUSIONS: Most participants tended to report support for harm reduction strategies. Age, political ideology, and individual differences in stigmatizing beliefs about PWID were significantly associated with support. Given the potential malleability of stigmatizing beliefs, efforts that seek to shift stigma about PWID could have important implications for public policy towards harm reduction strategies for PWID.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.