Exploring the economic costs to family members affected by drug use: A discrete choice experiment

Expected Date of Completion:
Project Supporters:

NHMRC Project Grant

Drug Type:
image - Exploring The Economic Costs To Family Members Affected By Drug Use
Project Members
image - Marian Shanahan
Conjoint Senior Lecturer
Ph 02 9385 0333
Project Main Description

Drug use can lead to significant financial, psychological, physical health and social consequences for family members. Despite this, previous economic assessments of drug use interventions have not included the costs and benefits to family members of treatment for the drug user.

This study aims to use a discrete choice experiment (DCE) survey to quantify the impact of hypothetical treatment outcomes on family members who have been affected by the drug use of a relative.

It is hoped that the results of the study will serve as an initial step in addressing the lack of health economic data for family members affected by the drug use of a relative. This study forms part of a larger NHMRC funded research project ‘The value of providing health interventions for heroin use: a cost benefit analysis’. This larger study aims to estimate the net social benefit of heroin treatment, taking into account health, crime, social and family consequences.


To quantify the economic impact to family members of treatment for the drug user.

Design and Method

This study used a purpose built national online survey to evaluate the impact of drug use treatment on family members affected by the drug use of a relative. As part of the survey participants will complete a discrete choice experiment (DCE). The DCE will quantify preferences for a hypothetical treatment based on the characteristics associated with the treatment and will allow an amount to be attached to the treatment through the inclusion of a willingness to pay value.

Family members will be recruited using social media (i.e. Twitter), the DPMP and NDARC websites, as well as specialist support services for family members (Family Drug Support).


The study commenced June 2014 with the survey launched in August 2014. This survey recruitment portion of the study is now complete. Data analysis has begun.


Data from this study will be used in the larger study and peer reviewed articles will be written.

Project Supporters

NHMRC Project Grant


This novel approach will provide information for policy makers a measure the intangible harms to families.

Drug Type
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Date Commenced

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