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1.  The Effectiveness of Community Action in Reducing Risky Alcohol Consumption and Harm: A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001617.
In a cluster randomized controlled trial, Anthony Shakeshaft and colleagues measure the effectiveness of a multi-component community-based intervention for reducing alcohol-related harm.
Background
The World Health Organization, governments, and communities agree that community action is likely to reduce risky alcohol consumption and harm. Despite this agreement, there is little rigorous evidence that community action is effective: of the six randomised trials of community action published to date, all were US-based and focused on young people (rather than the whole community), and their outcomes were limited to self-report or alcohol purchase attempts. The objective of this study was to conduct the first non-US randomised controlled trial (RCT) of community action to quantify the effectiveness of this approach in reducing risky alcohol consumption and harms measured using both self-report and routinely collected data.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cluster RCT comprising 20 communities in Australia that had populations of 5,000–20,000, were at least 100 km from an urban centre (population ≥ 100,000), and were not involved in another community alcohol project. Communities were pair-matched, and one member of each pair was randomly allocated to the experimental group. Thirteen interventions were implemented in the experimental communities from 2005 to 2009: community engagement; general practitioner training in alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBI); feedback to key stakeholders; media campaign; workplace policies/practices training; school-based intervention; general practitioner feedback on their prescribing of alcohol medications; community pharmacy-based SBI; web-based SBI; Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services support for SBI; Good Sports program for sports clubs; identifying and targeting high-risk weekends; and hospital emergency department–based SBI. Primary outcomes based on routinely collected data were alcohol-related crime, traffic crashes, and hospital inpatient admissions. Routinely collected data for the entire study period (2001–2009) were obtained in 2010. Secondary outcomes based on pre- and post-intervention surveys (n = 2,977 and 2,255, respectively) were the following: long-term risky drinking, short-term high-risk drinking, short-term risky drinking, weekly consumption, hazardous/harmful alcohol use, and experience of alcohol harm. At the 5% level of statistical significance, there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the interventions were effective in the experimental, relative to control, communities for alcohol-related crime, traffic crashes, and hospital inpatient admissions, and for rates of risky alcohol consumption and hazardous/harmful alcohol use. Although respondents in the experimental communities reported statistically significantly lower average weekly consumption (1.90 fewer standard drinks per week, 95% CI = −3.37 to −0.43, p = 0.01) and less alcohol-related verbal abuse (odds ratio = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.35 to 0.96, p = 0.04) post-intervention, the low survey response rates (40% and 24% for the pre- and post-intervention surveys, respectively) require conservative interpretation. The main limitations of this study are as follows: (1) that the study may have been under-powered to detect differences in routinely collected data outcomes as statistically significant, and (2) the low survey response rates.
Conclusions
This RCT provides little evidence that community action significantly reduces risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms, other than potential reductions in self-reported average weekly consumption and experience of alcohol-related verbal abuse. Complementary legislative action may be required to more effectively reduce alcohol harms.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12607000123448
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
People have consumed alcoholic beverages throughout history, but alcohol use is now an increasing global public health problem. According to the World Health Organization's 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study, alcohol use is the fifth leading risk factor (after high blood pressure and smoking) for disease and is responsible for 3.9% of the global disease burden. Alcohol use contributes to heart disease, liver disease, depression, some cancers, and many other health conditions. Alcohol also affects the well-being and health of people around those who drink, through alcohol-related crimes and road traffic crashes. The impact of alcohol use on disease and injury depends on the amount of alcohol consumed and the pattern of drinking. Most guidelines define long-term risky drinking as more than four drinks per day on average for men or more than two drinks per day for women (a “drink” is, roughly speaking, a can of beer or a small glass of wine), and short-term risky drinking (also called binge drinking) as seven or more drinks on a single occasion for men or five or more drinks on a single occasion for women. However, recent changes to the Australian guidelines acknowledge that a lower level of alcohol consumption is considered risky (with lifetime risky drinking defined as more than two drinks a day and binge drinking defined as more than four drinks on one occasion).
Why Was This Study Done?
In 2010, the World Health Assembly endorsed a global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. This strategy emphasizes the importance of community action–a process in which a community defines its own needs and determines the actions that are required to meet these needs. Although community action is highly acceptable to community members, few studies have looked at the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm. Here, the researchers undertake a cluster randomized controlled trial (the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities [AARC] project) to quantify the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption and harms in rural communities in Australia. A cluster randomized trial compares outcomes in clusters of people (here, communities) who receive alternative interventions assigned through the play of chance.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers pair-matched 20 rural Australian communities according to the proportion of their population that was Aboriginal (rates of alcohol-related harm are disproportionately higher among Aboriginal individuals than among non-Aboriginal individuals in Australia; they are also higher among young people and males, but the proportions of these two groups across communities was comparable). They randomly assigned one member of each pair to the experimental group and implemented 13 interventions in these communities by negotiating with key individuals in each community to define and implement each intervention. Examples of interventions included general practitioner training in screening for alcohol use disorders and in implementing a brief intervention, and a school-based interactive session designed to reduce alcohol harm among young people. The researchers quantified the effectiveness of the interventions using routinely collected data on alcohol-related crime and road traffic crashes, and on hospital inpatient admissions for alcohol dependence or abuse (which were expected to increase in the experimental group if the intervention was effective because of more people seeking or being referred for treatment). They also examined drinking habits and experiences of alcohol-related harm, such as verbal abuse, among community members using pre- and post-intervention surveys. After implementation of the interventions, the rates of alcohol-related crime, road traffic crashes, and hospital admissions, and of risky and hazardous/harmful alcohol consumption (measured using a validated tool called the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) were not statistically significantly different in the experimental and control communities (a difference in outcomes that is not statistically significantly different can occur by chance). However, the reported average weekly consumption of alcohol was 20% lower in the experimental communities after the intervention than in the control communities (equivalent to 1.9 fewer standard drinks per week per respondent) and there was less alcohol-related verbal abuse post-intervention in the experimental communities than in the control communities.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide little evidence that community action reduced risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms in rural Australian communities. Although there was some evidence of significant reductions in self-reported weekly alcohol consumption and in experiences of alcohol-related verbal abuse, these findings must be interpreted cautiously because they are based on surveys with very low response rates. A larger or differently designed study might provide statistically significant evidence for the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption. However, given their findings, the researchers suggest that legislative approaches that are beyond the control of individual communities, such as alcohol taxation and restrictions on alcohol availability, may be required to effectively reduce alcohol harms. In other words, community action alone may not be the most effective way to reduce alcohol-related harm.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001617.
The World Health Organization provides detailed information about alcohol; its fact sheet on alcohol includes information about the global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol; the Global Information System on Alcohol and Health provides further information about alcohol, including information on control policies around the world
The US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has information about alcohol and its effects on health
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a website on alcohol and public health that includes information on the health risks of excessive drinking
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about drinking and alcohol, including information on the risks of drinking too much, tools for calculating alcohol consumption, and personal stories about alcohol use problems
MedlinePlus provides links to many other resources on alcohol
More information about the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities project is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001617
PMCID: PMC3949675  PMID: 24618831
2.  Study Protocol - Alcohol Management Plans (AMPs) in remote indigenous communities in Queensland: their impacts on injury, violence, health and social indicators and their cost-effectiveness 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:15.
Background
In 2002/03 the Queensland Government responded to high rates of alcohol-related harm in discrete Indigenous communities by implementing alcohol management plans (AMPs), designed to include supply and harm reduction and treatment measures. Tighter alcohol supply and carriage restrictions followed in 2008 following indications of reductions in violence and injury. Despite the plans being in place for over a decade, no comprehensive independent review has assessed to what level the designed aims were achieved and what effect the plans have had on Indigenous community residents and service providers. This study will describe the long-term impacts on important health, economic and social outcomes of Queensland’s AMPs.
Methods/Design
The project has two main studies, 1) outcome evaluation using de-identified epidemiological data on injury, violence and other health and social indicators for across Queensland, including de-identified databases compiled from relevant routinely-available administrative data sets, and 2) a process evaluation to map the nature, timing and content of intervention components targeting alcohol. Process evaluation will also be used to assess the fidelity with which the designed intervention components have been implemented, their uptake and community responses to them and their perceived impacts on alcohol supply and consumption, injury, violence and community health. Interviews and focus groups with Indigenous residents and service providers will be used. The study will be conducted in all 24 of Queensland’s Indigenous communities affected by alcohol management plans.
Discussion
This evaluation will report on the impacts of the original aims for AMPs, what impact they have had on Indigenous residents and service providers. A central outcome will be the establishment of relevant databases describing the parameters of the changes seen. This will permit comprehensive and rigorous surveillance systems to be put in place and provided to communities empowering them with the best credible evidence to judge future policy and program requirements for themselves. The project will inform impending alcohol policy and program adjustments in Queensland and other Australian jurisdictions.
The project has been approved by the James Cook University Human Research Ethics Committee (approval number H4967 & H5241).
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-15
PMCID: PMC3909070  PMID: 24400846
Alcohol; Indigenous; Alcohol Management Plans; Public Health
3.  Does Increasing Community and Liquor Licensees’ Awareness, Police Activity, and Feedback Reduce Alcohol-Related Violent Crime? A Benefit-Cost Analysis 
Approximately half of all alcohol-related crime is violent crime associated with heavy episodic drinking. Multi-component interventions are highly acceptable to communities and may be effective in reducing alcohol-related crime generally, but their impact on alcohol-related violent crime has not been examined. This study evaluated the impact and benefit-cost of a multi-component intervention (increasing community and liquor licensees’ awareness, police activity, and feedback) on crimes typically associated with alcohol-related violence. The intervention was tailored to weekends identified as historically problematic in 10 experimental communities in NSW, Australia, relative to 10 control ones. There was no effect on alcohol-related assaults and a small, but statistically significant and cost-beneficial, effect on alcohol-related sexual assaults: a 64% reduction in in the experimental relative to control communities, equivalent to five fewer alcohol-related sexual assaults, with a net social benefit estimated as AUD$3,938,218. The positive benefit-cost ratio was primarily a function of the value that communities placed on reducing alcohol-related harm: the intervention would need to be more than twice as effective for its economic benefits to be comparable to its costs. It is most likely that greater reductions in crimes associated with alcohol-related violence would be achieved by a combination of complementary legislative and community-based interventions.
doi:10.3390/ijerph10115490
PMCID: PMC3863856  PMID: 24169411
alcohol-related violent crime; intervention; community; liquor licensees; police; feedback; benefit-cost analysis; economic
4.  Trends in and Determinants of Loss to Follow Up and Early Mortality in a Rapid Expansion of the Antiretroviral Treatment Program in Vietnam: Findings from 13 Outpatient Clinics 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73181.
Background
This study aims to describe the trends in and determinants of six month mortality and loss to follow up (LTFU) during 2005–2009 in 13 outpatient clinics in Vietnam.
Method
Data were obtained from clinical records of 3,449 Vietnamese HIV/AIDS patients aged 18 years or older who initiated ART between 1 January 2005 and 31 December 2009. Mantel-Haenszel chi-square test, log rank test were conducted to examine the trends of baseline characteristics, six month mortality and LTFU. Cox proportional hazards regression models were performed to compute hazard ratio (HR) and 95% Confidence Interval (CI).
Results
Though there was a declining trend, the incidence of six month mortality and LTFU remained as high as 6% and 15%, respectively. Characteristics associated with six month mortality were gender (HR females versus males 0.54, 95%CI: 0.34–0.85), years of initiation (HR 2009 versus 2005 0.54, 95%CI: 0.41–0.80), low baseline CD4 (HR 350–500 cells/mm3 versus <50 cells/mm3 0.26, 95%CI: 0.18–0.52), low baseline BMI (one unit increase: HR 0.96, 95%CI: 0.94–0.97), co-infection with TB (HR 1.61, 95%CI: 1.46–1.95), history of injecting drugs (HR 1.58, 95%CI: 1.31–1.78). Characteristics associated with LTFU were younger age (one year younger: HR 0.97, 95%CI: 0.95–0.98), males (HR females versus males 0.82, 95%CI: 0.63–0.95), and poor adherence (HR 0.55, 95%CI: 0.13–0.87).
Conclusions
To reduce early mortality, special attention is required to ensure timely access to ART services, particularly for patients at higher risk. Patients at risk for LTFU after ART initiation should be targeted through enhancing treatment counselling and improving patient tracing system at ART clinics.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073181
PMCID: PMC3774724  PMID: 24066035
5.  Tailoring a response to youth binge drinking in an Aboriginal Australian community: a grounded theory study 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:726.
Background
While Aboriginal Australian health providers prioritise identification of local community health needs and strategies, they do not always have the opportunity to access or interpret evidence-based literature to inform health improvement innovations. Research partnerships are therefore important when designing or modifying Aboriginal Australian health improvement initiatives and their evaluation. However, there are few models that outline the pragmatic steps by which research partners negotiate to develop, implement and evaluate community-based initiatives. The objective of this paper is to provide a theoretical model of the tailoring of health improvement initiatives by Aboriginal community-based service providers and partner university researchers. It draws from the case of the Beat da Binge community-initiated youth binge drinking harm reduction project in Yarrabah.
Methods
A theoretical model was developed using the constructivist grounded theory methods of concurrent sampling, data collection and analysis. Data was obtained from the recordings of reflective Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) processes with Aboriginal community partners and young people, and university researchers. CBPR data was supplemented with interviews with theoretically sampled project participants. The transcripts of CBPR recordings and interviews were imported into NVIVO and coded to identify categories and theoretical constructs. The identified categories were then developed into higher order concepts and the relationships between concepts identified until the central purpose of those involved in the project and the core process that facilitated that purpose were identified.
Results
The tailored alcohol harm reduction project resulted in clarification of the underlying local determinants of binge drinking, and a shift in the project design from a social marketing awareness campaign (based on short-term events) to a more robust advocacy for youth mentoring into education, employment and training. The community-based process undertaken by the research partnership to tailor the design, implementation and evaluation of the project was theorised as a model incorporating four overlapping stages of negotiating knowledges and meanings to tailor a community response.
Conclusions
The theoretical model can be applied in spaces where local Aboriginal and scientific knowledges meet to support the tailored design, implementation and evaluation of other health improvement projects, particularly those that originate from Aboriginal communities themselves.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-726
PMCID: PMC3750544  PMID: 23919727
Indigenous population; Binge drinking; Adolescent; Community-based participatory research; Research design
6.  Structural Barriers to Timely Initiation of Antiretroviral Treatment in Vietnam: Findings from Six Outpatient Clinics 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51289.
In Vietnam, premature mortality due to AIDS-related conditions is commonly associated with late initiation to antiretroviral therapy (ART). This study explores reasons for late ART initiation among people living with HIV (PLHIV) from the perspectives of health care providers and PLHIV. The study was undertaken in six clinics from five provinces in Vietnam. Baseline CD4 counts were collected from patient records and grouped into three categories: very late initiators (≤100 cells/mm3 CD4), late initiators (100–200 cells/mm3) and timely initiators (200–350 cells/mm3). Thirty in-depth interviews with patients who started ART and 15 focus group discussions with HIV service providers were conducted and thematic analysis of the content performed. Of 934 patients, 62% started ART very late and 11% initiated timely treatment. The proportion of patients for whom a CD4 count was obtained within six months of their HIV diagnosis ranged from 22% to 72%. The proportion of patients referred to ART clinics by voluntary testing and counselling centres ranged from 1% to 35%. Structural barriers to timely ART initiation were poor linkage between HIV testing and HIV care and treatment services, lack of patient confidentiality and a shortage of HIV/AIDS specialists. If Vietnam’s treatment practice is to align with WHO recommendations then the connection between voluntary counselling and testing service and ART clinics must be improved. Expansion and decentralization of HIV/AIDS services to allow implementation at the community level increased task sharing between doctors and nurses to overcome limited human resources, and improved patient confidentiality are likely to increase timely access to HIV treatment services for more patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051289
PMCID: PMC3519823  PMID: 23240013
7.  Applying what works: a systematic search of the transfer and implementation of promising Indigenous Australian health services and programs 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:600.
Background
The transfer and implementation of acceptable and effective health services, programs and innovations across settings provides an important and potentially cost-effective strategy for reducing Indigenous Australians' high burden of disease. This study reports a systematic review of Indigenous health services, programs and innovations to examine the extent to which studies considered processes of transfer and implementation within and across Indigenous communities and healthcare settings.
Methods
Medline, Informit, Infotrac, Blackwells Publishing, Proquest, Taylor and Francis, JStor, and the Indigenous HealthInfoNet were searched using terms: Aborigin* OR Indigen* OR Torres AND health AND service OR program* OR intervention AND Australia to locate publications from 1992–2011. The reference lists of 19 reviews were also checked. Data from peer reviewed journals, reports, and websites were included. The 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for proportions that referred to and focussed on transfer were calculated as exact binomial confidence intervals. Test comparisons between proportions were calculated using Fisher's exact test with an alpha level of 5%.
Results
Of 1311 publications identified, 119 (9.1%; 95% CI: 7.6% - 10.8%) referred to the transfer and implementation of Indigenous Australian health services or programs, but only 21 studies (1.6%; 95% CI: 1.0% - 2.4%) actually focused on transfer and implementation. Of the 119 transfer studies, 37 (31.1%; 95% CI: 22.9 - 40.2%) evaluated the impact of a service or program, 28 (23.5%; 95% CI: 16.2% - 32.2%) reported only process measures and 54 were descriptive. Of the 37 impact evaluation studies, 28 (75.7%; 95% CI: 58.8% - 88.2%) appeared in peer reviewed journals but none included experimental designs.
Conclusion
While services and programs are being transferred and implemented, few studies focus on the process by which this occurred or the effectiveness of the service or program in the new setting. Findings highlight a need for partnerships between researchers and health services to evaluate the transfer and implementation of Indigenous health services and programs using rigorous designs, and publish such efforts in peer-reviewed journals as a quality assurance mechanism.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-600
PMCID: PMC3490811  PMID: 22856688
Indigenous; Transfer; Spread; Dissemination; Implementation; Adoption; Uptake.
8.  Preliminary development and psychometric evaluation of an unmet needs measure for adolescents and young adults with cancer: the Cancer Needs Questionnaire - Young People (CNQ-YP) 
Background
Adolescents and young adult (AYA) cancer survivors may have unique physical, psychological and social needs due to their cancer occurring at a critical phase of development. The aim of this study was to develop a psychometrically rigorous measure of unmet need to capture the specific needs of this group.
Methods
Items were developed following a comprehensive literature review, focus groups with AYAs, and feedback from health care providers, researchers and other professionals. The measure was pilot tested with 32 AYA cancer survivors recruited through a state-based cancer registry to establish face and content validity. A main sample of 139 AYA cancer patients and survivors were recruited through seven treatment centres and invited to complete the questionnaire. To establish test-retest reliability, a sub-sample of 34 participants completed the measure a second time. Exploratory factor analysis was performed and the measure was assessed for internal consistency, discriminative validity, potential responsiveness and acceptability.
Results
The Cancer Needs Questionnaire - Young People (CNQ-YP) has established face and content validity, and acceptability. The final measure has 70 items and six factors: Treatment Environment and Care (33 items); Feelings and Relationships (14 items); Daily Life (12 items); Information and Activities (5 items); Education (3 items); and Work (3 items). All domains achieved Cronbach's alpha values greater than 0.80. Item-to-item test-retest reliability was also high, with all but four items reaching weighted kappa values above 0.60.
Conclusions
The CNQ-YP is the first multi-dimensional measure of unmet need which has been developed specifically for AYA cancer patients and survivors. The measure displays a strong factor structure, and excellent internal consistency and test-retest reliability. However, the small sample size has implications for the reliability of the statistical analyses undertaken, particularly the exploratory factor analysis. Future studies with a larger sample are recommended to confirm the factor structure of the measure. Longitudinal studies to establish responsiveness and predictive validity should also be undertaken.
doi:10.1186/1477-7525-10-13
PMCID: PMC3317875  PMID: 22284545
Adolescents and young adults; cancer; unmet needs; measure development; psychometric evaluation; reliability; validity
9.  An empirical approach to selecting community-based alcohol interventions: combining research evidence, rural community views and professional opinion 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:25.
Background
Given limited research evidence for community-based alcohol interventions, this study examines the intervention preferences of rural communities and alcohol professionals, and factors that influence their choices.
Method
Community preferences were identified by a survey of randomly selected individuals across 20 regional Australian communities. The preferences of alcohol professionals were identified by a survey of randomly selected members of the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and Other Drugs. To identify preferred interventions and the extent of support for them, a budget allocation exercise was embedded in both surveys, asking respondents to allocate a given budget to different interventions. Tobit regression models were estimated to identify the characteristics that explain differences in intervention preferences.
Results
Community respondents selected school programs most often (88.0%) and allocated it the largest proportion of funds, followed by promotion of safer drinking (71.3%), community programs (61.4%) and police enforcement of alcohol laws (60.4%). Professionals selected GP training most often (61.0%) and allocated it the largest proportion of funds, followed by school programs (36.6%), community programs (33.8%) and promotion of safer drinking (31.7%). Community views were susceptible to response bias. There were no significant predictors of professionals' preferences.
Conclusions
In the absence of sufficient research evidence for effective community-based alcohol interventions, rural communities and professionals both strongly support school programs, promotion of safer drinking and community programs. Rural communities also supported police enforcement of alcohol laws and professionals supported GP training. The impact of a combination of these strategies needs to be rigorously evaluated.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-25
PMCID: PMC3305500  PMID: 22233608
12.  Measuring the psychosocial health of adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer survivors: a critical review 
Background
Adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer survivors require psychometrically rigorous measures to assess their psychosocial well-being. Without methodologically adequate scales the accuracy of information obtained on the prevalence of needs, predictors of risk, and the potential success of any interventions, can be questioned. This review assessed the psychometric properties of measures designed specifically to identify the psychosocial health of this unique population.
Methods
Medline, PsycINFO, CINAHL and EMBASE databases were searched to identify measures developed to assess the psychosocial health of AYA cancer survivors. Searches were limited to the years 1998-2008. A search of Medline revealed that the number of publications related to the assessment of psychosocial well-being in AYA cancer survivors prior to this period were minimal. The psychometric properties of identified measures were evaluated against pre-determined and generally accepted psychometric criteria including: reliability (internal consistency and test-retest); validity (face, content, construct, and criterion); responsiveness; acceptability; and feasibility.
Results
Seven quality of life measures met the inclusion criteria. No measures of unmet need were identified. All seven measures reported adequate internal consistency, face, content, and construct validity. Test-retest reliability, criterion (predictive) validity, responsiveness, acceptability, and feasibility were rarely examined.
Conclusions
There is a need to further evaluate the psychometric properties of existing quality of life measures for AYA cancer survivors. Valid, reliable, and acceptable measures which can assess the psychosocial needs of this population should also be developed.
doi:10.1186/1477-7525-8-25
PMCID: PMC2850329  PMID: 20205922
14.  Patterns of drug use among a sample of drug users and injecting drug users attending a General Practice in Iran 
Aim
This study aimed to examine drug use, drug treatment history and risk behaviour among a sample of Iranian drug users seeking treatment through a general practice clinic in Iran.
Methods
Review of medical records and an intake questionnaire at a large general practice in Marvdasht, Iran, with a special interest in drug dependence treatment. Records from a random sample of injecting drug users (IDU), non-injecting drug users (DU) and non-drug using patients were examined.
Results
292 records were reviewed (34% IDU, 31% DU and 35% non-drug users). Eighty-three percent were males; all females were non-drug users. The mean age of the sample was 30 years. Of the IDU sample, 67% reported sharing a needle or syringe, 19% of these had done so in prison. Of those who had ever used drugs, being 'tired' of drug use was the most common reason for seeking help (34%). Mean age of first drug use was 20 years. The first drugs most commonly used were opium (72%), heroin (13%) and hashish/ other cannabinoids (13%). Three quarters reported having previously attempted to cease their drug use. IDU were more likely than DU to report having ever been imprisoned (41% vs 7%) and 41% to have used drugs in prison.
Conclusion
This study has shown that there is a need for general practice clinics in Iran to treat drug users including those who inject and that a substantial proportion of those who inject have shared needles and syringes, placing them at risk of BBVI such as HIV and hepatitis C. The expansion of services for drug users in Iran such as needle and syringe programs and pharmacotherapies are likely to be effective in reducing the harms associated with opium use and heroin injection.
doi:10.1186/1477-7517-3-2
PMCID: PMC1397809  PMID: 16433914
15.  Perceptions of substance use, treatment options and training needs among Iranian primary care physicians 
In order to be optimally effective, continuing training programmes for health-care professionals need to be tailored so that they target specific knowledge deficits, both in terms of topic content and appropriate intervention strategies. A first step in designing tailored treatment programmes is to identify the characteristics of the relevant health-care professional group, their current levels of content and treatment knowledge, the estimated prevalence of drug and alcohol problems among their patients and their preferred options for receiving continuing education and training. This study reports the results of a survey of 53 primary care physicians working in Iran. The majority were male, had a mean age of 44 years and saw approximately 94 patients per week. In terms of their patients' drug use, primary care physicians thought most patients with a substance use problem were male, women were most likely to use tobacco (52%), opium (32%) and marijuana/hashish and young people were most likely to use tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and heroin. Counselling and nicotine patches were the treatments most commonly provided. Although the majority (55%) reported referring patients to other services, more than a third did not. Most primary care physicians reported being interested in attending further training on substance abuse issues. The implications of these data for ongoing education and training of primary care physicians in Iran are discussed.
doi:10.1186/1475-9276-4-7
PMCID: PMC1164425  PMID: 15955255

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