Heroin dependence is remarkably persistent, and in many cases it is a lifelong condition with a high mortality rate. Yet, the natural history of heroin dependence has rarely been studied. The Australian Treatment Outcome Study (ATOS) is a landmark Australian cohort study examining outcomes from heroin dependence in over 40 research publications over three years (2001-2004; NHMRC 300454). The 10 year prospective cohort studywill recontact and reinterview the 615 individuals who participated in the initial 3 year cohort study.
To conduct a 10 year longitudinal cohort study of heroin users in Australia
Ten year follow-up interviews examining mortality, abstinence, criminality, psychopathology and suicidal behaviour will be conducted with individuals in the ATOS cohort.
Training of interviewers and re-contacting of participants from the original study has commenced. ATOS has secured NHMRC funding for 2012-2013 and will be fully staffed from January 2012.
This will allow a better understanding of the natural history of heroin users in terms of mortality, remission, criminality and psychiatric comorbidity. The long-term outcomes of the cohort will be examined using both sophisticated data linkage and detailed individual interviews.
The extension of this cohort will address three significant gaps in our knowledge: