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Community trial evaluating the integration of Indigenous healing practices and a harm reduction approach with principles of seeking safety in an Indigenous residential treatment program in northern Ontario


Objective — Our primary objective was to evaluate how the Indigenous Healing and Seeking Safety (IHSS) model impacted residential addiction treatment program completion rates. Our secondary objective was to evaluate health service use 6 months before and 6 months after residential treatment for clients who attended the program before and after implementing IHSS.

Methods — We observed clients of the Benbowopka Residential Treatment before IHSS implementation (from April 2013 to March 31, 2016) and after IHSS implementation (from January 1, 2018 – March 31, 2020). The program data were linked to health administration data, including the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) physician billing, the Registered Persons Database (RPDB), the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System (NACRS), and the Discharge Abstract Database (DAD). Chi-square tests were used to compare patient characteristics in the no-IHSS and IHSS groups. We used logistic regression to estimate the association between IHSS and treatment completion. We used generalized estimating equation (GEE) regression model to evaluate health service use (including primary care visits, ED visits overall and for substance use, hospitalizations and mental health visits), Results: There were 266 patients in the no-IHSS group and 136 in the IHSS group. After adjusting for individual characteristics, we observed that IHSS was associated with increased program completion rates (odds ratio = 1.95, 95% CI 1.02-3.70). There was no significant association between IHSS patients’ health service use at time one or time two. Primary care visits time 1: aOR 0.55, 95%CI 0.72-1.13, time 2: aOR 1.13, 95%CI 0.79-1.23; ED visits overall time 1: aOR 0.91, 95%CI 0.67-1.23, time 2: aOR 1.06, 95%CI 0.75-1.50; ED visits for substance use time 1: aOR 0.81, 95%CI 0.47-1.39, time 2: aOR 0.79, 95%CI 0.37-1.54; Hospitalizations time 1: aOR 0.78, 95%CI 0.41-1.47, time 2: aOR 0.76, 95%CI 0.32-1.80; Mental health visits time 1: aOR 0.66, 95%CI 0.46-0.96, time 2: aOR 0.92 95%CI 0.7-1.40.

Conclusions — Our results indicate that IHSS positively influenced program completion but had no significant effect on health service use.

Trial registration — This study was registered with clinicaltrials.gov (identifier number NCT04604574). First registration 10/27/2020.



Morin KA, Marsh TN, Eshakakogan C, Eibl JK, Spence M, Gauthier G, Walker JD, Sayers D, Ozawanimke A, Bissaillion B, Marsh DC. BMC Health Serv Res. 2022; 22(1):1045. Epub 2022 Aug 16.

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