Substance use and substance use disorder, in relation to COVID-19: protocol for a scoping review

Navin Kumar, Kamila Janmohamed, Kate Nyhan, Silvia S. Martins, Magdalena Cerda, Deborah Hasin, Jenny Scott, Richard Pates, Lilian Ghandour, Mayyada Wazaify, Kaveh Khoshnood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic is creating severe issues for healthcare and broad social structures, exposing societal vulnerabilities. Among the populations affected by COVID-19 are people engaged in substance use, such as people who smoke; vape (e-cigarette use); use opioids, cannabis, alcohol, or psychoactive prescription drugs; or have a substance use disorder (SUD). Monitoring substance use and SUD during the pandemic is essential, as people who engage in substance use or present with SUD are at greater risk for COVID-19, and the economic and social changes resulting from the pandemic may aggravate SUD. There have been several reviews focused on COVID-19 in relation to substance use and SUD. Reviews generally did not consider on a large range of substance use variants or SUDs. We plan a scoping review that seeks to fill gaps in our current understanding of substance use and SUD, in the COVID-19 era. Methods: A scoping review focused on substance use and SUD, in relation to COVID-19, will be conducted. We will search (from January 2020 onwards) Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Africa-Wide Information, Web of Science Core Collection, Embase, Global Health, WHO Global Literature on Coronavirus Disease Database, WHO Global Index Medicus, PsycINFO, PubMed, Middle Eastern Central Asian Studies, CINAHL Complete, and Sociological Abstracts. Grey literature will be identified using Disaster Lit, Google Scholar, HSRProj, governmental websites, and clinical trials registries (e.g.,, World Health Organization, International Clinical Trials Registry Platform and International Standard Randomized Con-trolled Trial Number registry). Study selection will conform to Joanna Briggs Institute Reviewers’ Manual 2015 Methodology for JBI Scoping Reviews. Only English language, original studies investigating substance use and SUD, in relation to COVID-19 in all populations and settings, will be considered for inclusion. Two reviewers will independently screen all citations, full-text articles, and abstract data. A narrative summary of findings will be conducted. Data analysis will involve quantitative (e.g., frequencies) and qualitative (e.g., content and thematic analysis) methods. Discussion: Original research is urgently needed to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 on substance use and SUD. The planned scoping review will help to address this gap. Systematic review registration: Open Science Framework (osf/io/tzgm5).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number48
JournalSystematic Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • Substance use
  • Substance use disorder
  • SUD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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