Transformation of identity in substance use as a pathway to recovery and the potential of treatment for hepatitis C: A systematic review protocol

Sarah Donaldson (Lead / Corresponding author), Andrew Radley, John Dillon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
50 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a strongly stigmatised disease as it is framed within the context of injecting substance use. HCV provides the identity of 'dirty' or 'junky', with perceptions by others being beyond the control of the individual. People who experience problematic substance use are often viewed as being outside acceptable social behaviours, thus viewed as having tainted identities or second-class citizens. It is suggested that to recover from substance use, people should move towards social networks where substance use is not the norm and there is greater recovery support. The social identity model of recovery advocates that the mechanism to do this is by developing a new identity. It is unclear what catalysts provide this change in identity. This systematic review aims to describe actions, interventions and treatments that provide the opportunity for new identities and considers evidence that supports the hypothesis that curing HCV with direct acting antivirals may provide this opportunity. Methods and analysis Methods are informed by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analysis statement. Seven electronic peer-reviewed and four grey literature sources were identified and preliminary searches have been conducted. The inclusion and exclusion criteria are broad to capture activities that result in a change in identity, recovery from substance use, quality of life, life satisfaction or the opportunity for the individual to reclaim their place in society (citizenship). Qualitative and quantitative literature are eligible. Papers will be assessed against standardised criteria and checked independently and in duplicate. A narrative synthesis of the findings will be reported, structured around intervention type, population context and outcomes. Ethics and dissemination This systematic review will be based on studies that have already been conducted and therefore no ethical approvals are required. The resulting findings will be submitted to an international peer-reviewed journal and disseminated at relevant research conferences.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere049713
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number2
Early online date7 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2022


  • hepatology
  • public health
  • substance misuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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