2023 Northern BC Research and Quality Conference - Concurrent Session Information

Conference Poster

Concurrent Session H 

Date: November 8

Time: 3:15pm - 4:15pm 

Location: University of Northern BC, 6-205

Theme: Mental Health and Substance Use


Amy Crandall 

Title: Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on psychoactive substance use from a Canadian rural and remote perspective

Objectives: The primary goal of this study was to determine whether psychoactive drug-related deaths had increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a special focus placed on Canadian rural and remote communities. A secondary goal was to determine whether population characteristics of psychoactive drug-related deaths had changed among the overall Canadian, urban, and rural populations. 

Methods: This retrospective cross-sectional study utilized data from the Canadian Vital Statistics Death Database (CVSD). The sample population extracted from this database consisted of all individuals aged 15 and above who died due to a confirmed psychoactive substance overdose in the ten Canadian provinces between 2000 and 2021. A death caused by psychoactive substances was indicated by a corresponding ICD-10 code present in the CVSD database (WHO, 1992). Analyses included cause-specific mortality rates, chi-square tests of independence, and unadjusted odds ratios.

Results: Those living in remote and very remote locations saw substantial increases in cause-specific mortality rates between March 2020 and 2021, but no significant association was found. These locations also had higher cause-specific mortality rates compared to those living in more accessible (urban) locations. When population characteristics were examined overall, and in more accessible locations, significant associations between pre-COVID-19 and COVID-19 time periods were found for sex, age groups, marital status, death cause, type of drug used, and death locality. Population characteristics of rural individuals only yielded significance for the type of drug used.

Conclusion: Regardless of rurality, this study found significant associations demonstrating that being male, being between 30-59 years old, and being single were risk factors for psychoactive substancerelated deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, individuals were much more likely to die by an accidental overdose in their private homes during this period. They were also more likely to die due to a mixture of substances, especially when the mixture included narcotic analgesics.


Laurie DeCroos 

Title: Using social prescribing to enhance support and skill-building for families affected by dementia 

Objective: To increase knowledge of dementia, feelings of social connection, and confidence in the ability to cope with the disease among families affected by dementia in British Columbia (B.C.).  
Background: Social prescribing offers a holistic approach to care, where health-care providers and community connectors link patients or clients with resources and supports relevant to their situation. 

Methods: Over a six-month period between June-December 2022, 1,168 participants who participated in a First Link® program or service completed an online survey to provide feedback on their experience.
Person/Family/Community Partner Engagement: Through participation in the survey, families are engaged in program quality improvement by providing their feedback for program improvements and developments; caregivers and people living with symptoms of dementia further provided input on the survey design. 

Results: The survey results indicate a 74% increase in feelings of social connection, an 82% increase in dementia-related knowledge, and an 84% increase in confidence to apply newfound knowledge to daily life, after attending a First Link® program or service.

Lessons learned: 

  • Increased awareness of social prescribing practices and First Link® dementia support among health-care providers increases families’ access to dementia information and support. 
  • First Link® dementia support increases participants’ knowledge of dementia, their ability to cope with the disease, and their awareness of other community resources. 
  • Understanding the impact of social prescribing practices on families affected by dementia has important implications for both health-care provider and patient capacity.

Roseanne Larstone 

Title: Safer Suicide Care: A Northern Health Quality Improvement Initiative  

Objective: To engage stakeholders inclusive of patients/families to identify opportunities and implement quality improvement activities in the suicide care space, including addressing practice and process gaps in suicide risk screening and assessment.

Methods: We engaged internal and external stakeholders to inform a new provincial guideline on suicide risk reduction developed by the Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division. Concurrent to development of the publication we implemented a survey as part of a systematic needs assessment to capture NH feedback regarding priority QI activities. We are undertaking mapping of data elements in electronic medical records to address a gap around Indigenous demographic data. Partnered development of education/knowledge translation (KT) products to address Indigenous-specific racism will be key areas of focus in this CMHABC funded initiative.

Person/Family/Community Partner Engagement: Community mental health service and Indigenous organizations are being engaged in developing education and KT to address systemic racism and enhance cultural safety in the NH suicide care space.

Lessons Learned:

  • Diversity of data required to inform systematic needs assessment
  • Dedicated, sustainable resources and implementation team required to drive work forward
  • Requires appropriate length of time to respectfully engage • Requires champions to influence system and point-of-care change