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SHIFT

A proposal consisting of communication design strategies intended for improving awareness for harm reduction techniques used to treat Opioid Use Disorder. 

This proposal was completed by the inaugural class of the Masters of Health Communication Design program at Thomas Jefferson University along with community partners, Camden CoalitionPrevention Point, and The Northern New Jersey Medication-Assisted Treatment Center of Excellence

A lack of information and the prevailing stigma around opioid use creates barriers to fully implementing Harm Reduction strategies. Backed by research, interviews, and on-site field work, the goal for this project is to prevent opioid overdoses and death through influential, engaging public health messaging that promotes Harm Reduction. By sharing Harm Reduction resources and real stories from patients with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), the strategies proposed here will help reduce stigma and humanize people who use drugs to create wider public support for existing Harm Reduction services.

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To promote awareness around Harm Reduction — and specifically improve knowledge about Narcan — an outdoor, mobile installation will showcase personal narratives of people affected by OUD in key, walkable locations throughout Philadelphia.

The suggested journey for the installation is a spiral path leading inward toward a center point. A series of “story stations” live along the way and lead to the centermost station — a smaller, enclosed space where visitors can reflect on the content they just received. The journey then “unwinds” from the center point with content culminating into a call to action for expanding Narcan access and training, as well as support for Harm Reduction centers.

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Stories help people focus on the messaging while allowing for personal choices and actions to arise within the narrative frame. This mobile installation gives people the opportunity to learn about OUD in a multidimensional way. Sharing first-hand narratives from people affected by OUD will help to build empathy in the viewer and understanding around the urgent need for Harm Reduction.

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The initiative also has the potential to employ people affected by OUD, who could tell their stories and answer questions in a judgment-free space. The installation’s perimeter will include an “empathy walk trail” with straightforward facts about OUD printed on the ground. Studies have shown that coordinated walking with a member of a group someone doesn't understand is an effective means towards creating positive attitudes towards them.

The mobile installation can stand alone but encourages visitors to scan QR codes linking to supplementary, content-rich multimedia. Videos, audio stories, and music create a more in-depth look into these stories. Visitors can share these stories over email and social media during their experience, which spreads the installation’s message even further.

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Social media is leveraged in order to spread the message even further, while also allowing visitors to share their experience with the installation.

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