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Knowledge Validity and Triangulation

PI: Jurgen Rehm, Institute of Mental Health Policy Research, CAMH, ON

Working Group: Mr. Jean-Francois Crepault (CAMH); TBD

In order to increase the integrity, transparency, validity, and accuracy of our evaluation and data collected within each sub-study, we will undertake two distinct knowledge triangulation activities drawing on focus groups and jurisdictional bylaw policy analyses.


In the fourth year of the evaluation, we will bring together groups of key stakeholders (PWUD, the public, police, criminal justice representatives, and harm reduction and treatment service providers) to engage in focus group discussions where we will present the data we have gathered thus far and elicit their feedback. We will hold four separate focus groups consisting of approximately 6-10 individuals from each of the six main stakeholder groups for a total of ~40 individuals. We will draw on snowball sampling techniques using our established connections with stakeholders who we have engaged with throughout the evaluation to recruit new individuals who have not participated in prior research on decriminalization. In advance of the focus groups, a summary of key themes and findings will be shared with the stakeholders to prepare them for the focus group discussions. Focus groups will last approximately 90 minutes in length and individuals will be able to share their own experiences as well as reflect on their community experiences as a whole in relation to the decriminalization evaluation data presented.


In addition to conducting focus groups to triangulate knowledge and ensure the validity and accuracy of our data, we will also undertake jurisdictional bylaw policy analyses. One caveat of decriminalization policy is that although it is universally mandated across the province, how the policy is applied and enforced will vary by jurisdiction and specific police forces. Additionally, it will be impacted by specific community bylaws related to public drug use consumption and drug-adjacent crimes such as littering of drug use paraphernalia, loitering, etc. which, if remain enforced by individual community bylaws or police forces, may undermine the goals of decriminalization. It will therefore be important to conduct jurisdictional-specific analyses to examine potential differences in the application of the decriminalization policy, including analyzing drug use-related bylaws, and any impacts and outcomes.

We will select a random sample of communities that are representative of BC’s five Health Service Delivery Areas and examine extant community bylaws and compare these to the findings from the other evaluation activities to understand the extent to which community-level factors may affect decriminalization.