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Keane, Martin (2006) The EDDRA column. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 20, Winter 2006 , p. 28.

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The Exchange on Drug Demand Reduction Action (EDDRA) column has appeared in the past 15 issues of Drugnet Ireland. The purpose of this column is to inform readers about the EDDRA database as a knowledge resource on good practice in the field of drug demand reduction and to highlight examples of good practice. This present column is taking a slightly different approach, in that its purpose is to highlight the upcoming revision of the EDDRA database being co-ordinated by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). This revision will inevitably mean changes in reporting practices to the EDDRA database, as the main aim of the revision is to further develop EDDRA as a tool for collecting, storing and disseminating examples of science-based practice in the field. Science-based practice will include interventions that are theoretically based and have been evaluated for effectiveness, meaning that the evaluation has identified what works, for whom and under what conditions. In some cases, these evaluations are referred to as outcome or impact evaluations.

EDDRA was established in 1996 to collect, store and disseminate information on good practice in demand reduction throughout the EU, with the aim of promoting the role of evidence-based practice and an evaluation culture within the field. Ten years on, and with a renewed focus on what constitutes evidence-based practice within the EU and the role of the EMCDDA in disseminating this information, a decision has been taken to review the current structure and operation of EDDRA. 

From the outset, the Drug Misuse Research Division (DMRD), as the Irish Focal Point for EMCDDA activities, has been one of the main providers of information to EDDRA, with data on over fifty interventions submitted for inclusion on the database. This information is presented in a standardised format that includes aims and objectives, evaluation indicators and evaluation results. The interventions are judged to be well designed and have been evaluated and thus satisfy the main criteria for inclusion. However, like most of the interventions in EDDRA, there are questions regarding the quality of the evaluations and whether they can be referred to as science based.

For example, the majority of interventions have not been evaluated to determine their effectiveness in producing an intended or expected result. Instead, evaluations have tended to examine how the intervention is being implemented and whether the target group is being successfully reached. The usual methods employed are semi-structured interviews with staff, and in some cases with participants. There is nothing wrong with this type of evaluation, indeed it is necessary to establish the status of interventions that have been running for at least one year. We know little about the effectiveness of interventions that are seeking to reduce the demand for drugs in Ireland. Even where evaluations have reported on positive outcomes, such as individuals remaining drug free or progressing to education or employment, there is little evidence to show how this was achieved and under what conditions it could be replicated.

As noted earlier, there is a move within the EMCDDA for a more targeted focus on identifying and disseminating information on science-based practice in the field, and it is envisaged that the EDDRA database will be refined to play a role in these activities, which are influenced by the EU Drugs Action Plan 2005–2008. The next steps in the revision process are a technical meeting on 13 September 2006 in Lisbon and further discussion at the EDDRA managers’ meeting on 3–4 October 2006. Drugnet Ireland will keep readers informed of these developments as they proceed.

Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 19, Autumn 2006
Date:July 2006
Page Range:p. 28
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 20, Winter 2006
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Available)
Subjects:MP-MR Policy, planning, economics, work and social services > Programme planning, implementation, and evaluation > Programme evaluation
VA Geographic area > Europe

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