Public health challenges and opportunities of internet technologies for the study of new and emerging psychoactive substance use and related health harms

Date Commenced:
July 2014
Expected Date of Completion:
06/2018
Project Supporters:

NHMRC Early Career Research Fellowship

Drug Type:
image - Istock 000005704703medium Square 0
Project Members
image - Monica Barratt
Research Fellow
Ph 0407 778 938
Project Main Description

New psychoactive drugs that mimic the effects of prohibited drugs are increasingly available in Australia, and there is mounting evidence of their harmful health effects. This research examines the challenges and opportunities of internet technologies for understanding trends in new and emerging drug use and harms. Findings will inform the development of more effective public health responses to reduce morbidity and mortality from new psychoactive drugs and other illicit drug use.

Rationale

An increasing number of new psychoactive substances (NPS) that mimic the effects of prohibited drugs are available for use in Australia, and there is mounting evidence of their harmful health effects resulting from acute and long-term use. This research examines the challenges and opportunities of internet technologies for understanding trends in NPS use and harms, using advanced epidemiological techniques, digital mixed-methods methodologies, and participatory engagement.

Aims

This research will develop a theoretically informed understanding of the challenges posed by internet technologies as drivers of NPS use and harms, and how to address these challenges; and utilise the opportunities of internet technologies for (a) enhancing epidemiological monitoring of NPS trends and (b) facilitating participatory involvement of NPS users.

Design and Method

Through this research I will develop a detailed understanding of how internet technologies drive trends in NPS use and harms in Australia over time, including through enabling and facilitating purchasing, marketing, information sharing, and social networking. The research will also more fully exploit the opportunities of internet technologies for enhancing epidemiological monitoring of NPS trends (testing the external validity of online-recruited survey samples, trialling Web Respondent-Driven Sampling) and participatory involvement of NPS users (launching flagship partnership projects with online communities of people who use drugs). A wide range of data will be utilised, including a longitudinal cohort study of NPS users, web-based data sources (such as search query data, microblogging, online discussion forums, and online marketplaces), and repeated cross-sectional surveys.

Progress/Update

This research is still in preliminary stages.

Findings

This research is still in preliminary stages.

Output

This research is still in preliminary stages.

Benefits

New knowledge and the use of innovative methodological techniques will inform the development of new public health responses to reduce morbidity and mortality from NPS and other illicit drug use.

Project Supporters

NHMRC Early Career Research Fellowship

Drug Type
Project Status
Current
Date Commenced
July 2014

Project Contacts

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