Objective: To investigate the attitudes of injecting drug users (IDUs) towards the establishment of safe injecting rooms (SIRs) in Melbourne, Australia.
Methods: Multi-site convenience sampling at Needle and Syringe Exchange Programs (NSEPs) within six Melbourne suburbs. Four hundred current IDUs were recruited directly through NSEP and participant snowballing. Respondents completed either a semi-structured interview, anonymous self-report questionnaire, face-to-face interview or participated in a focus group. Participants were asked to report on their knowledge and attitudes about SIR, their experiences and concerns as participants of street-based illicit drug markets, and their willingness to use SIRs if established.
Results: Participants (91%) were knowledgeable about the SIR issue and thought such a strategy had potential to address both personal and wider community harms associated with public injecting. Most (77%) indicated they would be willing to use a SIR if established in Melbourne. Gender, lifetime non-fatal overdose episodes and frequency of heroin use were all significantly related to a person's willingness to use SIRs. A significant number also reported a preference for injecting at their own place of residence due to concerns regarding privacy, safety and police presence within street-based market places.
Conclusions: This study has identified a number of important issues relating to the likely demand and uptake of SIRs that should be addressed when considering the feasibility of establishing SIRs within Australia.