Tag Archives: research

School drug education for teens: how effective?

мека мебелDrug and Alcohol Findings is a great service, summarising key issues in the ATOD field. This week they’ve taken a look at a 2003 study on how effective interactive drug educations can be in schools. Aside from summarising that study’s findings (which was that interactive lessons did have a positive impact), they also give some fascinating information on follow-up statistical analysis that contradicted the original findings.

Have a read for yourself

NHMRC Funding cuts: the perspective of those affected

It’s hard not to agree with the perspective of the Public Health Association of Australia‘s on the Government’s rumoured spending cutbacks for research:

150 professors to fight possible NHMRC funding cuts

The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) and the Council of Academic Public Health Institutes of Australia (CAPHIA) have written to the Prime Minister and colleagues to express concern about possible funding cuts to National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) research. The letter from the two leading public health organisations has also been signed by over 150 Professors of Public Health from around the country, who say the proposed cuts come at a time of unprecedented reform including in the primary health care and preventive sector.

“A previous Federal budget saw the abolition of the Public Health Education and Research Program (PHERP) with a major impact on a range of public health programs. Every University has been impacted by the loss of PHERP funding which in turn affects capacity building in the public health workforce. Now, proposed cuts to the NHMRC research funds will have further impact on public health research,” explained Professor Helen Keleher, PHAA President.

“Public health research has struggled to gain funding within NHMRC to a level anywhere near on par with its policy relevance and population impact. It remains especially vulnerable to disproportionate reductions if budget cuts are instituted. Public health research tends to produce long term rather than short term outcomes and is therefore more vulnerable to cutbacks than other forms of research. However, it is also true that many of the great advances in improved health outcomes have come through public health. If we are to improve population health and address health inequities, we must invest in public health research to inform programs and policy,” said Professor Keleher.

“Public health successes in environmental health, communicable disease control, injury prevention and health advancement account for much of the improvement in health and life expectancy over the last 50 years. While more research is still being conducted on these issues, public health is also involved in improving nutrition and physical fitness to deal with the obesity epidemic, as well as alcohol, illicit drugs and gambling policy to reduce harm associated with these activities. These are complex issues in which evidence gaps exist and further research is required to effectively support programs,” said Professor Bennett.

“Public health research informs the development of programs and policies and evaluates their effectiveness. It investigates the social and environmental determinants of health to ensure targeting of programs to get the best outcomes for the least cost. We know that prevention is better than cure, and prevention reduces the burden of illness and disability in our society. Undertaking research into prevention of ill health and promoting good health is a cost effective intervention which saves lives.

“We are urging the Government to reconsider any possible cuts to the NHMRC budget that will surely impact heavily on public health research,” said Professor Bennett.

A full copy of the letter sent by PHAA and CAPHIA to the Prime Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Education and Minister for Health is available on the PHAA website at: www.phaa.net.au .

Injecting rooms improve health and rehab likelihood: study

As per ABC News, a Burnet Institute study being released next week shows improved health outcomes for those who attended one of the 76 injecting rooms surveyed worldwide. No real surprise there but it’s great to see a local, substantive study illustrating those outcomes.

Would anyone like to predict what the conservative lobby’s reaction will be to the report?

Anti-marijuana ads: impact on teens

A fascinating study published last year that I only just stumbled across thanks to Mike Ashton:

The effect of marijuana scenes in anti-marijuana public service announcements on adolescents’ evaluation of ad effectiveness is the study and it’s worth reading the whole thing.

The take home message:

The analysts concluded that their most consistent findings related to the presence of scenes showing cannabis or its use. Youngsters unlikely in any event to use the drug reacted well to anti-cannabis ads regardless, but those the ads most needed to deter – the ones most likely to use the drug – saw the ads overall as less effective, and especially those which featured the drug or its use. Neither were they swayed by what young people in general saw as stronger anti-cannabis arguments; on one important measure, they actually reacted more negatively to strong-argument ads. The lesser relevance of argument strength may have been due to the fact that in respect of cannabis deterrence, youngsters saw all the arguments as only moderately convincing. These findings caution against featuring images of cannabis or its use in anti-drug campaigns.

Are you surprised by any of that? I’m not particularly…

Impact of methamphetamine price on use: new study

Saw this message from the NSW Department of Justice and Attorney General:

The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research in collaboration with the Drug Policy Modelling Program, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre has today released the following report:

How do methamphetamine users respond to changes in methamphetamine price?

One of the core objectives of supply-side drug law enforcement is to reduce drug use by raising the cost of buying drugs.
The effectiveness of this strategy depends on how illicit drug users respond to the rise in costs. The aim of the current study was to estimate how methamphetamine users would respond to changes in the price of methamphetamine and heroin
using a scenario-based research design.

Link to PDF report

Online survey: young adult drinking behaviour

I received today the following message from Sara Allen at Swinburne University:

Hi, we are researchers at Swinburne University inviting young adults to participate in this online survey relating to young adult drinking behaviour. The purpose of this study is to obtain a deeper understanding of the motives behind young adults’ drinking behaviour. While much emphasis has been given to the negative aspects, we are interested also in how alcohol may be used in a positive way such as using it as a tool for widening a person’s range of life experience. It is anticipated that your responses will enable us to develop a greater understanding of the motives behind drinking in young adults and the way personality factors may influence these motives.

Participants need to be between the ages of 18 and 30 and drink alcohol. If you fit these criteria it would be greatly appreciated if you considered completing this questionnaire and being a part of our study.

The questionnaire will be completed online at http://opinio.online.swin.edu.au/s?s=4269 and should take approximately 30 minutes to complete. Your participation is completely voluntary and if you choose to take part, you may discontinue at any time. If you do take part, please answer the questionnaire honestly, to the best of your ability. All answers are completely anonymous, as there is no way for anyone to trace the identity of those who complete the survey.

If you are interested in completing the questionnaire please rip off a copy of the link. Alternatively if you know someone else who you think may be interested please direct them to the appropriate link.
Thanks for your time and for considering this study!

Sara Allen (Student Researcher)
Dr. Roslyn Galligan (Supervisor)

Drug and Alcohol Findings

A UK-based resource, this magazine has made the welcome move to free PDF distribution. The full announcement and summary of contents:

” ISSUE 7 of the DRUG AND ALCOHOL FINDINGS magazine first published in 2002 is now available free of charge as downloadable PDFs (Adobe Acrobat files). Access by clicking this link:

or the BROWSE MAGAZINE link on the home page.

This final message introduces you the remaining NUGGETS. Remember to check the EXTENDED TEXTS for much more free information than we could fit on the page.

Brazilian clinic found that for both drinkers and drug users, cognitive-behavioural therapy worked as well in a group as an individual format with potential cost savings. Extended text documents similar studies.

Choose GROUP COGNITIVE-BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY… from the issue 7 listing or go direct to:

Children’s lives are hugely affected by parents, schools, peer groups and for those in trouble, public authorities and the law. Family therapy which orchestrated these multiple systems was more effective than typical group child or family approaches for teenage US drug users. Extended text highlights main advantage – effects persist while relapse is the norm after other therapies.

Choose HOLISTIC FAMILY THERAPY… from the issue 7 listing or go direct to: http://www.findings.org.uk/count/downloads/download.php?file=nug_7_8.pdf

Analysis of nine Home Office-funded youth work projects found that the more freedom workers had to de-focus from drugs and relate to young people on their own terms, the more successful they were at working with the problem drug users among them.

Choose DRUG-RELATED YOUTH WORK… from the issue 7 listing or go direct to:

NE Choices was a major UK government community project trialed in six schools in Northumbria. Few statistically significant findings but some evidence that supplementing school and youth activities with community and parental components helped curb or reverse progression to more serious forms of
drug use.

Choose INVOLVING PARENTS… from the issue 7 listing or go direct to:

Also in this issue:
Leading US researchers argue that for many patients addiction treatment should be spread thinly and extensively and assessed in terms of change during not after treatment. http://www.findings.org.uk/count/downloads/download.php?file=off_7_2.pdf

Good response to and compliance with interferon-based treatment means no justification for refusing treatment for hepatitis C infection to continuing injectors.

You won’t find it on official web sites, but in 2000 the former US Surgeon General and senior US scientists judged there was “conclusive” evidence that needle exchanges reduced HIV risk. http://www.findings.org.uk/count/downloads/download.php?file=off_7_4.pdf

Needle and Syringe Programs and Bleach in Prisons: Reviewing the Evidence

I noticed this interesting synopsis on the Update list yesterday and though it was worth passing on – the debate over NSP has raged non-stop for over twenty years now – is there likely to ever be a ceasefire?

“Full URL


A substantial amount of scientific evidence has shown that NSPs in the community are the most effective intervention available to prevent HIV transmission associated with injecting drug use. As well, NSPs have been associated with increases in access to care and treatment among people who use such programs, and with substantial cost-savings. The concerns raised about NSPs have been shown to be unfounded. NSPs have not led to increased levels of risk behaviour among people who use the programs or increased drug use by people who inject drugs.

An important and growing body of evidence demonstrating the success of prison-based NSPs also exists. Since the early 1990s, the number of NSPs established in prison settings has steadily grown. There are now in excess of 60 prisonbased NSPs in nine countries. While existing quantitative evaluations of NSPs have some limitations, overall the program evaluations have been highly and consistently favourable. NSPs in prison have been associated with a substantial reduction in needle and syringe sharing, and there have been no recorded cases of HIV infection among prisoners participating in an NSP.

Additional benefits observed include reductions in overdose incidents and deaths, an increase in referral to drug treatment programs, increased awareness of infections transmission and risk behaviours, and a reduction in injection-site abscesses. Significantly, none of the adverse consequences projected by some have been found. In particular, there have been no incidents in which syringes or needles from NSPs were used as weapons against guards or inmates, drug use has been stable or has decreased, and there has been no increase in injecting drug use among prisoners. In general, NSPs have been accepted by prison staff, including staff that was initially opposed to such programs. Bleach programmes should be available in prisons where authorities continue to oppose the introduction of NSPs, and to complement NSPs. However, because of bleach’s limited effectiveness, such programmes can only be regarded as a second-line strategy to NSPs and cannot replace NSPs.47

From a public health perspective, piloting and rapidly expanding NSPs is a priority for responding to the dual epidemics of injecting drug use and HIV infection among prisoners. To date a number of outbreaks of HIV among prisoners in the fSU have been documented.Given the evidence of entrenched epidemics of injecting drug use and HIV infection in prisons in many countries in Eastern Europe and the fSU, it is clear that further inaction on the part of prison officials will result in increased morbidity, including HIV infection, and mortality among people who inject drugs in prison. Moreover, the failure to implement NSPs could result in spread of HIV infection among the prison population as a whole, and could potentially lead to generalized epidemics among people in communities into which prisoners are released. Such further spread of HIV would lead not only to greater suffering for affected individuals and their families, but also would result in substantial, avoidable health care costs”.

Cannabis and Lung Cancer

I noticed a posting on ADCA’s Update list yesterday that quotes an interesting study showing a correlation between cannabis use and increased risk of lung cancer. Nothing particularly surprising about that – it’ll just be interesting how the research will be used by different ideological camps to promote their cause…

“Cannabis use and risk of lung cancer: a case–control study

S. Aldington*, M. Harwood*, B. Cox#, M. Weatherall”, L. Beckert*, A. Hansell+, A. Pritchard*, G. Robinson* and R. Beasley*,1 on behalf of the Cannabis and Respiratory Disease Research Group

ABSTRACT: The aim of the present study was to determine the risk of lung cancer associated with cannabis smoking. A case–control study of lung cancer in adults <55 yrs of age was conducted in eight district health boards in New Zealand. Cases were identified from the New Zealand Cancer Registry and hospital databases. Controls were randomly selected from the electoral roll, with frequency matching to cases in 5-yr age groups and district health boards. Interviewer-administered questionnaires were used to assess possible risk factors, including cannabis use. The relative risk of lung cancer associated with cannabis smoking was estimated by logistic regression. In total, 79 cases of lung cancer and 324 controls were included in the study. The risk of lung cancer increased 8% (95% confidence interval (CI) 2–15) for each joint-yr of cannabis smoking, after adjustment for confounding variables including cigarette smoking, and 7% (95% CI 5–9) for each pack-yr of cigarette smoking, after adjustment for confounding variables including cannabis smoking. The highest tertile of cannabis use was associated with an increased risk of lung cancer (relative risk 5.7 (95% CI 1.5–21.6)), after adjustment for confounding variables including cigarette smoking. In conclusion, the results of the present study indicate that long-term cannabis use increases the risk of lung cancer in young adults. KEYWORDS: Cannabis, case–control, lung cancer, tobacco Eur Respir J 2008; 31: 280–286 DOI: 10.1183/09031936.00065707 Copyright ERS Journals Ltd 2008".