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A Computer-Tailored Intervention to Promote Safer Injection Practices


This computerized intervention seeks to increase the use of clean syringes and promote safe injection practices for intravenous drug use (IDU).

In a series of four weekly sessions, this computer-tailored program presents educational information and persuasive messages designed to change attitudes on safe injection practices and to motivate use of new syringes among those that inject drugs. Audiovisual messages are delivered through a virtual character that models safer injection practices, presents a rationale for changing injecting behavior, and reinforces behavior changes. Content is tailored for each individual user.


Theoretical Approaches:
Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion
Social Cognitive Theory
Theory of Implementation of Intention
Harm Reduction

Target Substance(s):
Intravenous drugs

Target Outcome(s):
Increase safe injection practices

Young Adults (18-30)
Adults (30+)



Needle exchange program

Geographic Location:


  • A randomized trial to evaluate the efficacy of a computer-tailored intervention to promote safer injection practices among drug users.

    Gagnon H, Godin G, Alary M, Bruneau J, Otis J. AIDS and Behavior. 2010. 14(3): 538-548. PMID: 20033276.

    Summary: In this randomized controlled trial, 260 intravenous drug users (IDUs) were selected from needle exchange programs (NEPs) in two cities. Participants were randomly assigned to receive standard programming at the NEP, or to receive standard programming plus the computer-tailored intervention. Injection practices and use of sterile syringes were assessed through self-report questionnaires given at baseline, and at 1- and 3-month follow-up assessments. At baseline, participants were injecting drugs an average of 36.6 times per week. Approximately 19.6% of these injections were completed with dirty syringes. At the one-month assessment, participants assigned to the computer-tailored intervention used dirty syringes for 8.5% of all injections, statistically significant decrease. Participants receiving only standard programming had no decreases in use of dirty syringes. Additionally, the computerized intervention group reported use of significantly more safe injection behaviors compared to the standard care group. By three months after baseline, there was no difference in injection behaviors, as the computer intervention group reverted to less safe injection practices.

    Take Away: This computer-tailored intervention increases safer injection behaviors in IDUs over the short-term but differences were not sustained at 3-month follow-up. Strategies to promote maintenance of positive impact are needed.