Home > The Pompidou Group advocates better use of drug treatment data.

Sinclair, Hamish and Long, Jean (2004) The Pompidou Group advocates better use of drug treatment data. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 11, June 2004, p. 18.

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In May 2004, the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe published a report on a European Project that sought, through the use of advanced statistical techniques, to enhance the interpretation of drug treatment demand data.1 The results of such statistical analysis increase the relevance of treatment data to policy and practice 1. The project was carried out between 2001 and 2003 and involved 14 cities across Europe. Statistical consultancy was provided by Carla Rossi (Rome) and Colin Taylor (London) and the project was co-ordinated by Michael Stauffacher (Zurich).

 Descriptive analysis is the first step in obtaining a thorough understanding of data and is a prerequisite for advanced statistical analysis.  During the course of the project, guidelines were prepared to facilitate the participants in applying the advanced statistical techniques.  These statistical techniques permitted the identification of the independent contribution of each factor associated with injecting drug use, and the calculation of the incidence of heroin misuse for all those who seek treatment within a specific time period.  The report provides an example of each of these analyses.

 During the project, the participants learnt some important lessons.  These include:

  • The quality of the data collected and entered is the key to the validity of the reporting system.  If questions on the forms are incorrectly or incompletely answered, then the accuracy of the analysis is reduced.  The authors report that this requires repeated contact with service providers, proactive training, protocols for completing the form and prompt analysis of data.     
  • The full analytic capability of treatment data and its potential to inform policy and practice has never been realised.  Since a large amount of resources are invested in the collection of treatment data, there is an onus on those responsible for these reporting systems to provide regular and comprehensive analysis of data.  
  • Data that are analysed promptly and comprehensively are more useful to policy makers and service providers.    
  • The comprehensive interpretation of treatment demand data cannot be done without considering the other indicators of the drug use in a region or country and the responses to it.   

 The Pompidou Group has advocated the collection of drug treatment data using comparable procedures and criteria for the last decade or so. Since 2000,  the Pompidou Group’s focus in terms of drug treatment data evolved from one of data collection to one of data analysis and interpretation. Now, under the new work programme of the Pompidou Group for 2004–2006, emphasis is placed on how such data can be used to help develop evidence-based policies and practices. A Pompidou Group project to examine the impact of treatment demand data on policy and practice in Europe is currently under way and is co-ordinated by Drug Misuse Research Division of the Health Research Board. The project is funded by the Irish Department of Health and Children. 

1. Stauffacher M, Arpa S and Vassilev M (2004) Follow-up project on treatment demand: tracking long-term trends. Final report. Strasbourg: Council of Europe, Pompidou Group.


Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Issue Title
Issue 11, June 2004
June 2004
Page Range
p. 18
Health Research Board
Issue 11, June 2004
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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