Communicable disease epidemics and pandemics magnify the health inequities experienced by marginalised populations. People who use substances suffer from high rates of morbidity and mortality and should be a priority to receive palliative care, yet they encounter many barriers to palliative care access. Given the pre-existing inequities to palliative care access for people with life-limiting illnesses who use substances, it is important to understand the impact of communicable disease epidemics and pandemics such as COVID-19 on this population.
Methods and analysis
We will conduct a scoping review and report according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews reporting guidelines. We conducted a comprehensive literature search in seven bibliographical databases from the inception of each database to August 2020. We also performed a grey literature search to identify the publications not indexed in the bibliographical databases. All the searches will be rerun in April 2021 to retrieve recently published information because the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing at the time of this writing. We will extract the quantitative data using a standardised data extraction form and summarise it using descriptive statistics. Additionally, we will conduct thematic qualitative analyses and present our findings as narrative summaries.
Ethics and dissemination
Ethics approval is not required for a scoping review. We will disseminate our findings to healthcare providers and policymakers through professional networks, digital communications through social media platforms, conference presentations and publication in a scientific journal.