Community Perceptions of Harm Reduction and Its Implications for Syringe Exchange Policy

Amanda Sharp, Joshua T. Barnett, Enya B. Vroom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In the United States, the rising prevalence of opioid addiction has led to an increase in opioid-related overdose deaths and transmission of infectious disease. This resulted in the declaration of a national public health emergency and the need for harm reduction strategies such as syringe exchange. Florida has seen increases in blood-borne diseases and fatal/nonfatal opioid overdoses, yet harm reduction policy integration has been historically limited. To inform policy change, this study explores the perspectives of community members in Manatee County, Florida, on harm reduction services. Six focus groups were conducted with findings centralized around three emergent themes related to the implementation of a syringe exchange program: (a) awareness and acceptability; (b) facilitating factors; and (c) perceived barriers. The results of this qualitative research helped to inform the successful adoption of a local syringe exchange ordinance. Recommendations for community education and engagement regarding harm reduction policy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)507-523
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Drug Issues
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • community engagement
  • harm reduction
  • needle exchange
  • opioid use disorder
  • policy
  • syringe exchange

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Community Perceptions of Harm Reduction and Its Implications for Syringe Exchange Policy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this