Staff Perceptions of Syringe Dispensing Machines in Australia: A Pilot Study Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND/AIMS: Syringe dispensing machines were introduced into needle syringe programs (NSPs) two decades ago. The few published studies on dispensing machines have focused on feedback of machine users and service providers' feedback has rarely been reported. This study obtained the feedback of health staff of NSPs, other sectors of Drug Misuse Treatment Services and of other health services adjoining dispensing machines on the role and effectiveness of dispensing machines. METHODS: Between August and November 2006, questionnaires were anonymously completed by NSP and drug misuser treatment staff in an Area Health Service in Sydney, as well as by the staff of two nondrug-related health services located adjacent to needle syringe dispensing machines. The questionnaire was available in either paper or Internet based forms. RESULTS: Almost 80% of 94 participants rated dispensing machines as either moderately successful or successful in reducing sharing of needles and syringes. Staff considered that introduction of these machines to NSPs had improved services for injecting drug users without increasing unsafe disposal of used equipment, community drug use, or vandalism. However 78% of respondents felt that dispensing machines either reduce or may reduce IDUs' opportunity for staff contact and hence opportunity for engagement or education. The study limitations were noted. CONCLUSION: Syringe dispensing machines are perceived to be a successful and appropriate outlet of NSPs that complement other outlets. Lack of staff-user contact was seen as their main disadvantage.

publication date

  • January 2009