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NDARC Core Workplan Areas

NDARC Core Workplan Areas

T1: Prevention and early intervention research

Alcohol and drug use are leading risk factors for burden of disease in Australia and worldwide. Much of this burden is preventable. The Prevention and Early Intervention program is dedicated to identifying effective strategies to prevent and reduce problematic alcohol and drug use and experience of harms.

  • NDARC’s work in this area aims to prevent problematic substance use and harms and provide effective intervention strategies.
  • This includes the development and dissemination of resources for specific groups such as students, parents and teachers.
  • NDARC researchers collaborate with clinicians and drug and alcohol services to facilitate knowledge exchange and develop projects that address current and emerging issues.\

T2: Clinical research

Clinical Research conducted at NDARC aims to enable optimal clinical practice and improve clinical and functional outcomes through translation of evidence-based research. We collaborate with clinicians and academics on a range of topics relevant to substance use and its management. The clinical research program outputs include:

  • Enhanced access to evidence-informed, effective and affordable treatment
  • Development of new and innovative responses to reduce alcohol, tobacco and other drug problems
  • Contribute to national clinical guidelines and guidance development
  • Assessment of substance use disorder treatment provision and outcomes

T3: Mental & physical comorbidity research

Drug and alcohol problems often co-occur with other mental health disorders (e.g. anxiety, depression) and physical health conditions (e.g. chronic pain, heart disease). NDARC’s mental and physical health research aims to provide evidence-based recommendations to advance screening, detection and interventions for people with comorbid substance use and mental/physical health disorders. The mental, physical and D&A comorbidity program outputs include:

  • Improved understanding of the epidemiology of comorbid substance use, mental and physical health disorders
  • Development of effective and efficient treatment services for people with these comorbidities, including people from disadvantaged backgrounds and subpopulations
  • Translation of innovative prevention and treatment interventions for comorbidity into practice, including the evaluation of integrated care delivery models
  • Development of training programs for the management of comorbidity in alcohol and other drug treatment settings
  • Assessing physical comorbidities in people with problematic substance use
  • Evaluation of integrated care delivery models; workforce development

T4: Epidemiology of D&A use and harms

NDARC epidemiology program investigates substance use and harms in Australia and globally. A key component of this activity area is ‘Drug Trends’, an internationally renowned system that NDARC has coordinated since 1996. The program is key to identifying emerging problems in substance use in Australia and providing impetus for policy responses and intervention. The epidemiology program outputs include:

  • Timely epidemiology bulletins and information about changing drug trends in Australia
  • Increasing international collaborations and global contribution to understanding of epidemiology and disease burden
  • New epidemiological research projects using big data, data linkage and cutting-edge methodologies
  • Contribute to policy formation that considers changing patterns fodmap use and related harm in Australia and internationally, by population groups, special needs groups, and geography
  • Contribute to the development of anew early warning system to track real-time changes in use and harms of drugs
  • Monitoring pharmaceutical opioid use, misuse and harms (e.g. POINT,POPPY II)
  • Systematic reviews and evidence syntheses of epidemiology, harms and effective interventions for substance use across different populations

T5: Justice Health and Drug Policy

NDARC’s program of Justice Health and Drug Policy draws on expertise from staff and affiliate members in criminology, drug and alcohol policy, health and social policy. It evaluates policies in areas of laws, policing, harm reduction, prevention and treatment and identifies avenues for more effective responses that can reduce drug related harms.

The program also encompasses research on the health of people in contact with the forensic system, particularly prison; on opportunities to intervene in criminal justice settings to afford more therapeutic outcomes; and identification of responses that can reduce drug-related harms in and around the criminal justice system (such as through the use of treatment within prison and post-release programs. The Justice Health and Policy program outputs include:

  • More effective supply reduction policies
  • More effective demand reduction policies
  • More effective harm reduction policies
  • Better integrated law enforcement, health and social policy
  • Improved treatment retention rates
  • Better understanding of illicit drug markets

Improved understanding of drug-related costs.

T6: Indigenous health and wellbeing

The NDARC research program has a focus on enhancing health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (hereafter Indigenous) people. We partner with Indigenous representatives, government and NGO agencies, communities and community-controlled health services to produce research that provides evidence about effective, scalable, feasible and community-driven initiatives in Indigenous communities The Indigenous program outputs include:

  • Partnerships with communities and providers of clinical and non-government services to evaluate the effectiveness and cost implications(economic evaluations) of programs and services for Indigenous people.
  • Promotion of the uptake of programs and services into routine practice that are driven by Indigenous identified priorities:
    • Systematic reviews and outcome evaluations
    • Scalable and feasible to implement, with the ability to be adapted to local contexts.
    • Acceptable to community members, clinicians, service providers and communities
  • Building Indigenous research capacity to find solutions to substance use problems 5.Economic analysis of novel interventions in Indigenous communities
  • Improving cultural competence of non-Aboriginal drug and alcohol treatment services
  • Projects in partnership with Aboriginal communities in NSW aimed at reducing substance-related injury and violence in rural Indigenous communities.

T7: Health economics and biostatistics

NDARC conducts high quality policy relevant research through the application of health economic and biostatistical principles to assist and improve decision making and resource allocation in the Drug and Alcohol field. The wide range of research includes: the societal costs and benefits/effects of new treatments/interventions and drug/alcohol policy changes; measuring and valuing preferences and trade-offs of treatments and policies; and the impact of new treatments and policies on costs, health outcomes and quality of life. The health economics and biostatistics program outputs include:

  • Costing of interventions and treatments to aid budgeting and cost analyse
  • Conducting cost benefit analysis of drug and alcohol interventions to establish their net social benefit and thus enabling policy makers to weigh the costs and benefits of various alternatives
  • Conduct cost effectiveness analysis to compare the relative costs and outcomes (effects) of different interventions. Incremental cost effectiveness ratios of two or more alternative policies/interventions are compared to choose the most cost-effective ones
  • Model-based cost-effectiveness analysis, using decision trees and modelling to predict the progression of costs and outcomes for cohorts over time
  • Cost utility analysis: Analysing the incremental costs of interventions/treatments and the population incremental health related quality of life
  • Using stated preference methodising. discrete choice experiments and the contingent valuation to assess the societal preferences, value and willingness to pay for interventions/treatments.
  • Provision of leadership in guiding new work involving novel statistical and evaluation methods to the analysis of data from a range of study designs, including linked datasets, prospective cohort study designs, randomised controlled trials and time series analysis
  • Statistical analyses of research data as required and contribute to the design of new studies, particularly providing advice regarding sample size calculations and appropriate statistical analysis procedures
  • Production of high-quality research, suitable for publication in high-quality outputs

T8: Families, Communities and Society

Families, Communities and Society remains a developing activity area of research within NDARC which will leverage strengths across these areas, as well as broaden our research and engagement scope to consider how to more directly address the burden of substance use problems on families, communities and society.

Initial themes for the activity area are:

  • Increasing understanding of the impact of patterns of Ad use on families and communities
  • Increasing our understanding of the relationship between AoD service providers and families and communities
  • Better use of routinely collected data to increase understanding of AoD use harms on families and communities and effectiveness of services
  • Improved engagement with families and communities
  • The activity area requires ongoing consultation and stakeholder engagement to finalise desired outcomes.

Much of our existing work can be allocated within this activity area. Our intent remains to continue to review our existing research strengths and identify knowledge gaps or emergent research needs that NDARC can usefully respond to. The broad and interdisciplinary reach of NDARC researchers position us very well to continue to incorporate the families and communities perspective into our core research activities.

NDARC research currently addresses the following priority populations:

  • Affected (substance) user groups and their families
  • Indigenous communities
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities
  • People with current or previous incarceration
  • People from lower socio-economic status backgrounds
  • These communities will continue to be the focus of research work and collaboration, with the addition of other groups