International research symposium. Preventing substance use, risky use and harm: What is evidence-based policy?

  • Research program:
  • Project status: Completed
  • Start date: March 2002
  • Expected end date: March 2004
  • Completion date: March 2004
  • Funded by: CDHA, DAO
  • Lead organisation:

In partnership with:

The Centre for Adolescent Health (University of Melb)

The National Centre for Education and Training in Addiction (Flinders University)

The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (University of NSW)

The Alcohol AND Public Health Research Centre (Auckland, NZ)

Prevention Research Center, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (Berkeley, California)

NDRI has been engaged in two major projects that have involved reviewing evidence for 'what works' in the prevention of risky and harmful substance use, including both licit and illicit substances. The first project was sponsored by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Dependence of WHO, Geneva and sought to identify those research studies which provided 'exemplary' evidence regarding the effectiveness of programs concerned variously with public education, school-based education, regulation of availability and community action. The second study was funded by the National Drug Strategy Prevention Agenda and conducted in partnership with the Centre for Adolescent Health, University of Melbourne and in association with a multi-disciplinary group of expert advisers. The result was (i) a research monograph which summarises the available empirical and scientific evidence regarding best practice in the prevention of substance use problems and (ii) a companion document which considers the evidence and issues in detail for young people.

It is hoped that dissemination of these reviews will contribute both to general understandings about evidence-based prevention both throughout the life course and across the full range of intervention modalities. It is anticipated that there will be some common themes and clear linkages with recent prevention reviews from the areas of crime prevention and mental health promotion (Brown et al, 1999; Williams et al, 2000). It is also anticipated that there will be some unique issues, risk factors and opportunities that are specific to the prevention of particular varieties of drug-related harm.

Of major importance, it is hoped that the outcomes of the Prevention Monograph project will be a contribution towards effective national policy development. It was with this objective in mind that an international symposium was proposed as a means of raising the quality of debate about what works in prevention and what are the priorities for policy development and funding. To achieve these aims, the format of a Kettil Bruun Society Thematic meeting was employed. This involved series of brief presentations based on previously circulated papers with formal commentary by a discussant and extensive time for discussion. This format provided an ideal opportunity for rigorous examination of the quality of evidence underlying particular positions. The meeting was held over 4 days with participants representing a variety of research and policy interests. The participating researchers were drawn from an international base while the policy makers mainly came from Australia and New Zealand with some representation from WHO.

Name & Contact Details Role Research Program Location