Perspectives of people experiencing homelessness with recent non-fatal street drug overdose on the Pharmacist and Homeless Outreach Engagement and Non-medical Independent prescribing Rx (PHOENIx) intervention

PLoS One. 2024 May 13;19(5):e0302988. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0302988. eCollection 2024.


Introduction: In Scotland, a third of all deaths of people experiencing homelessness (PExH) are street-drug-related, and less than half of their multiple physical- and mental health conditions are treated. New, holistic interventions are required to address these health inequalities. PHOENIx (Pharmacist Homeless Outreach Engagement and Non-medical Independent prescribing Rx) is delivered on outreach by National Health Service (NHS) pharmacist independent prescribers in partnership with third sector homelessness charity workers. We describe participant's perspectives of PHOENIx.

Methods: This study aims to understand experiences of the PHOENIx intervention by participants recruited into the active arm of a pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT). Semi-structured in-person interviews explored participants' evaluation of the intervention. In this study, the four components (coherence, cognitive participation, collective action, reflexive monitoring) of the Normalisation Process Theory (NPT) framework underpinned data collection and analyses.

Results: We identified four themes that were interpreted within the NPT framework that describe participant evaluation of the PHOENIx intervention: differentiating the intervention from usual care (coherence), embedding connection and consistency in practice (cognitive participation), implementation of practical and emotional operational work (collective action), and lack of power and a commitment to long-term support (reflexive monitoring). Participants successfully engaged with the intervention. Facilitators for participant motivation included the relationship-based work created by the PHOENIx team. This included operational work to fulfil both the practical and emotional needs of participants. Barriers included concern regarding power imbalances within the sector, a lack of long-term support and the impact of the intervention concluding.

Conclusions: Findings identify and describe participants' evaluations of the PHOENIx intervention. NPT is a theoretical framework facilitating understanding of experiences, highlighting both facilitators and barriers to sustained engagement and investment. Our findings inform future developments regarding a subsequent definitive RCT of PHOENIx, despite challenges brought about by challenging micro and macro-economic and political landscapes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Drug Overdose* / drug therapy
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons* / psychology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharmacists* / psychology
  • Scotland

Grants and funding

The authors received funding from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Scottish Government Drug Deaths Taskforce. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or presentation of the manuscript.