People who inject drugs frequently suffer from bacterial skin infections related to their injecting drug use. In this project, we will develop and pilot a brief motivational intervention to help individuals change their behaviour so that their risk of acquiring skin infections is reduced. We will develop a toolkit, which will provide information on behaviours that are associated with vein damage and bacterial infections, including:

  • handwashing/swabbing
  • use of acids to prepare drugs
  • use of water for injection preparation
  • re-use of equipment and rotating injection sites.

The toolkit will also signpost to practical resources that enable safer injecting practices.

Soap in man's hand over wash basin

Project aim

The overall aim of the project is to prevent invasive bacterial skin infections among people who inject drugs. In this pilot study, we will test how acceptable the intervention is to those using it and how easy it is to implement in different settings. We hope to gain insights into the intervention’s impact on the behaviour and cultural practices of people who inject drugs and the services that support them.

Anticipated impacts

If the intervention proves effective, it will reduce vein damage and bacterial infections among people who inject drugs. The pilot will provide us with the information we need to develop a larger feasibility study and, depending on the results, to run a full-scale trial or large-scale roll-out to assess its effectiveness.

Project dates

November 2018 to December 2021


University of Bristol and the National Institute for Health Research.

Lead researchers

Harriet Fisher, Dr (University of Bristol)
Jo Kesten, Dr (University of Bristol)