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Home > Changes to the NDTRS form for 2016 data collection.

Lyons, Suzi (2015) Changes to the NDTRS form for 2016 data collection. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 55, Autumn 2015, pp. 14-15.

PDF (Drugnet Ireland 55)

In order to comply with reporting requirements for the EMCDDA,1 the NDTRS form for 2016 has been extensively changed and updated. As part of this process the NDTRS team also took the opportunity to revise and update the remaining questions to ensure that data important at a national level are captured as well


Spotlight on selected new and revised questions


Q2b Integrated individual health identifier (IHI)

The IHI number is included in preparation for the implementation of the IHI in the future although it is not yet available.2


Q3 – Q3a Sex: self-defined gender identity and Q3b Self-defined sexual orientation

The rationale for collection of data on self-defined gender and sexuality comes from specific actions contained in the current National Drugs Strategy (NDS).3 A key theme that emerged throughout all stages of the consultation process for the NDS was the requirement to focus on the needs of specific communities and help them to access services tailored according to their needs. In addition to the needs of prisoners, Travellers, new communities and homeless people, the other key group identified was lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) people. This new question will provide data to allow Actions 28 and 44 of the NDS to be assessed and measured in the future in relation to LGBT people.


Q6 Number of children

The revised form will allow the number of children (under and over 18 years of age) that the client has to be recorded. This new question will enable information to be collected by age bands: less than five; five to 17; 18 and older. It will also allow the living arrangements of the children to be captured for the first time. This means that in the future, the number of children living with problem drug or alcohol users can be enumerated. This will assist with estimating the number of young and older children at risk of hidden harm.4  


Q11a, Q11b and Q11c – Ethnicity

The NDTRS form has been updated to match the ethnicity questions asked by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). Instead of nationality, country of birth will now be recorded. The terminology for the options on ethnic/cultural background have been standardised with the CSO terminology and the option of Roma has been added. A new question on the language spoken at home (other than English or Irish) has been included. Information garnered through these questions should assist with planning services for new communities.


Q13 Main reason for referral

The list of process addictions that can be recorded has been increased and now includes gambling, spending, eating disorders, sex or porn addiction, and internet/gaming.


Q25a Current problem drug(s)

Four additional problem drugs can now be recorded instead of three. This should allow better understanding of trends in polydrug use.


Q29d Number of previous alcohol detoxes

In order to understand better the harm of problem alcohol use, a new question looks to ascertain the number of alcohol detoxes a client has undergone. The need for alcohol detoxification can be an indicator of chronic harm caused by problem alcohol use.


Risk behaviour – Q30c Frequency of injecting

In line with requirements for reporting to Europe, information on the time period during which the client last injected has been expanded:

  • injected in the past 30 days;
  • injected in the past 12 months, but not in the past 30 days;
  • injected, but not in the past 12 months;
  • Service user did not wish to answer. 

Risk behaviour – Q30d and Q39e Sharing of needles and syringes and/or other drug paraphernalia

In order to comply with reporting to Europe, the questions on sharing drug equipment have now been separated out: sharing of needles and syringes is to be reported separately from other drug paraphernalia, e.g. straws, pipes etc. The time period for any sharing will also now be recorded: shared in the past 30 days; shared in the past 12 months, but not in the past 30 days; shared, but not in the past 12 months; service user did not wish to answer


Q32a Treatment interventions

Services will now be able to record the start date, end date and number of sessions of key working given during a client’s treatment. Detoxification from specific, additional drugs can also now be recorded including ‘Z’ drugs. There is also space to specify other types of drugs not listed on the form, e.g. cannabis.


Q34 Condition and progress of client at discharge or when last seen

The revised form will try to capture more meaningful information on the condition, outcomes and progress of clients when they leave the service (for whatever reason). Information about changes in drug and/or alcohol use, about progress with their care plan (if applicable), and about engagement with other services on the road to recovery can be collected. There is also an option to ‘specify’ other outcomes important to different services, which will be monitored over the first year of data collection. Subsequent versions of the form will be updated and revised, where possible, to reflect important emerging measures.


Phased roll-out of training

The NDTRS team will start a phased roll-out of training for the new form in the autumn of 2015. The team will contact individual services to let them know the timetable for training. However, all services will receive the new forms, along with in-depth revised protocols, in the post in December 2015 in order to start completing them from 1 January 2016.


The NDTRS team is aware of the considerable work involved in collecting these data, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all the services for their invaluable input and cooperation. The NDTRS team would also like to thank all those who participated in the pilot of the revised form.


New on-line database ‘LINK’

In parallel to the revision of the hard-copy form, the NDTRS team are redeveloping the NDTRS database. The new system, called ‘LINK’, will be web-based, allowing services to enter their data directly onto the on-line system, and ultimately enabling more timely and accessible data. Information about ‘LINK’ and its roll-out will be published in the winter edition of Drugnet Ireland.


If you have any queries before this time please contact the team at


  1. EMCDDA (2012) Treatment demand indicator (TDI) standard protocol 3.0: Guidelines for reporting data on people entering drug treatment in European countries. Lisbon: EMCDDA.
  2. For more information on the IHI, go to
  3. 3. Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (2009) National Drugs Strategy (interim) 2009-2016. Dublin: Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.
  4. Health Service Executive, Child and Family Services (2014) Hidden harm stakeholder consultation, 28 January 2014, Radisson Hotel Sligo.
Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Issue Title
Issue 55, Autumn 2015
October 2015
Page Range
pp. 14-15
Health Research Board
Issue 55, Autumn 2015

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