Service providers’ perceptions of barriers to the implementation of trauma-focused substance use services for women in Cape Town, South Africa

Article

Focus Areas: Health & Wellness

BACKGROUND: A substantial number of South African women with substance use disorders also report psychological trauma related to experiences of physical and sexual abuse. Trauma-focused substance use programmes may support recovery from co-occurring substance use disorders and psychological trauma, yet integrated programmes are not widely available in South Africa. As part of the process of developing a trauma-focused substance use programme for South African women, we explored service providers’ views of the feasibility of implementing trauma-focused substance use interventions within usual care settings in Cape Town, including potential barriers that need to be considered when planning for implementation.

METHODS: We conducted 16 in-depth interviews with key informants responsible for planning or delivering substance use, psychological trauma or gender-based violence services to women in Cape Town. Guided by Extended Normalisation Process Theory, interviews explored participants’ perceptions of the potential value of trauma-focused substance use programmes, the feasibility of their implementation, and factors that may facilitate or hinder the implementation of trauma-focused substance use programmes. Qualitative data were analysed using the framework approach.

RESULTS: Three themes emerged: (1) Potential for the implementation of trauma-focused substance use programmes, describing participants’ views of the acceptability of these programmes; (2) Capacity for intersectoral collaboration, which participants considered necessary for limiting barriers to implementation; and (3) Co-operation with community structures to enhance capability for implementation.

CONCLUSION: Findings show potential for implementing trauma-focused substance use interventions in South Africa, however context-specific capacity and capability barriers need to be considered and addressed for implementation to be successful.

Myers, B., T. Carney, K. Johnson, F. A. Browne and W. M. Wechsberg (2020). "Service providers' perceptions of barriers to the implementation of trauma-focused substance use services for women in Cape Town, South Africa." Int J Drug Policy 75: 102628.

Experts

Wendee Wechsberg

“We must listen to the communities, the local people, to understand culturally what is going to fit and what is going to be the language of the research, and not just say we know what to do here.”

Felicia Browne

"I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work on applied, gender-focused projects in the community in which I grew up, in hopes of having an impact on HIV, STIs and other health outcomes among African-American adolescent girls and young women."