OSAC update: Exploring paths for change

Challenging stigma is embedded in the work of PAN members as they provide services to people who are living with HIV, hep C, substance use, and mental health challenges. PAN members guide and support people through visits to doctors, mental health workers, Emergency Departments, pharmacists, settlement and housing services, and so much more. They know from experience that stigma can be experienced at any health or social service.

While many PAN member groups began with their work focused on HIV and/or hepatitis C, the importance of also responding to intersecting health issues prompts organizations to look at how best to adapt their services and address multiple stigmas. Community conversations about stigma amongst PAN, PAN members, and allies draw attention to stigma reduction advocacy to be done in communities, and these conversations have also recognized that stigma and discrimination can happen anywhere- even within our own organizations. Looking inward could help organizations learn how to create better experiences for people accessing services. This is the kernel of reflection that grew into the Organizational Stigma Assessment Cycle project (OSAC).

OSAC combines research, evaluation and capacity-building to support organizations to learn about how their organization is experienced and if they might make changes to improve peoples’ experiences. We’re currently working through a pilot test of OSAC with Central Interior Native Health Services (CINHS) and ANKORS to try out the tools we’ve developed. Learn more about the steps so far.


We spoke with a number of organizations to see whether they were interested and had the capacity to work through the pilot the process with us. The High Accuity Support Program (HASP) at Central Interior Native Health (Prince George) and ANKORS (multiple sites in the Kootenays) signed on for the pilot. It is great to work with both organizations: with CINHS representing the North and ANKORS representing the east and west Kootenays, information is coming in from different geographical areas in the province. Both organizations support people in cities and rural areas.

One of the foundation tools of OSAC is the Learning Assessment Cycle User Guide, the document that outlines the concept and action of the learning assessment cycle. Once the pilot process and evaluation of the pilot is complete, our plan is to update it with what we’ve learned from the evaluation and then share it widely with community.

Both pilot organizations led people who use services and staff to complete assessment surveys that were completed through the end of 2023. Once analysis of the surveys was complete, we met with each organization to go over their results and talk about some spots where they might wish to dig a little deeper through focus groups.

We have now completed focus groups at both of the pilot sites, speaking with staff and people who use services in separate gatherings. Edi Young of the Research and Evaluation team brought her experience as a peer researcher to lead focus groups. Focus group conversations were shaped around assessment survey points that emerged. Following keyword theme analysis from focus groups, we’ll support the organizations to develop action plans for change.

Next month we’re bringing the pilot sites together to evaluate the process to date. Each step of the pilot process results in great learning, a reflection of the complex community work we share. We look forward to sharing this community resource as it becomes ready for community use.

You can learn more about OSAC by visiting the project page.


Questions? Contact Leanne Zubowski, Research and Evaluation Specialist


Thank you to the Vancouver Foundation for funding this project to address systems change.

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