Peer-led interventions to deliver health information to ecstasy and related drug (ERDs) users

Contact name: 
Anne Marieke Bleeker
Position: 
Senior Research Officer
Organization: 
National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (University of NSW) We worked with KIS project in Sydney and Save a mate program (red Cross in Canberra and Adelaide) and Unity Jellinek Amsterdam
Telephone: 
61293850127
Address: 
National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (University of NSW) Sydney, 2053, Australia
Summary

Peer-led, ecstasy-related harm reduction efforts have become increasingly popular over the past two decades but their efficacy has never been rigorously evaluated. A quasi-experimental study design was utilised over three Australian study sites. Experimental sites were matched as closely as possible with control sites in relation to event size, music style and age range of attendees. The experimental group (n=278) received a unique ecstasy-related health message and general drug-related information while the control group (n=383) received general drug-related information only.The peer education methodology used was effective in disseminating information and the retention of information was relatively enduring. Among the experimental and control group, there were significant decreases in drug involvement at three month follow-up after the intervention, but other explanations for the decrease could not be excluded.The peer education methodology used was an effective health promotion tool among ecstasy users. The influence of peer-led interventions on drug use needs to be addressed by additional, methodologically robust studies. Findings highlight the important considerations for peer-led interventions.

Abstract

Background

Peer-led, ecstasy-related harm reduction efforts have become increasingly popular over the past two decades but their efficacy has never been rigorously evaluated.

Objectives

To evaluate health message retention and drug use outcomes in a peer-led intervention for ecstasy users.

Characteristics

A quasi-experimental study design was utilised over three Australian study sites. Experimental sites were matched as closely as possible with control sites in relation to event size, music style and age range of attendees. The experimental group (n=278) received a unique ecstasy-related health message and general drug-related information while the control group (n=383) received general drug-related information only.

Evaluation

The peer education methodology used was effective in disseminating information and the retention of information was relatively enduring. Among the experimental and control group, there were significant decreases in drug involvement at three month follow-up after the intervention, but other explanations for the decrease could not be excluded.

Conclusion

The peer education methodology used was an effective health promotion tool among ecstasy users. The influence of peer-led interventions on drug use needs to be addressed by additional, methodologically robust studies. Findings highlight the important considerations for peer-led interventions.

Intervention details

Type of intervention
Harm reduction
Problem addressed
Illegal drugs, Alcohol, Poly drug use, Overdosing
Intervention setting
Bar
Club/disco/afters
Event
Target population

Ecstasy and related drug users

Substances adressed
Alcohol
Cannabis
Pharmaceutical drugs
MDMA (XTC)
Amphetamines
Methamphetamines
GHB
Polydrug
Strategic target group (social agents acting as intermediaries between intervention and target group)

Ecstasy and related drug users

Intervention activities
Peer-group approach
Research
Actions
Educated approximately 900 ecstasy and related drug users who attended dance parties in Australia and the Netherlands. The aim of the research study was to see if peer education messages could be disseminated to the target group using a peer led methodology. A secondary outcome measure was to see if there was any behaviour change from the target group in relation to the health messages that were presented to them.
Number of people needed
We trained approximately 15 people in each study site which equates to approximately 60 peer educators
Specific training required?
Baseline drug and alcohol training (minimum of 15 hours) plus top up training of 7 hours provided by NDARC, UNSW
Time required to run
The study went for approximately 2 years. From the literature review through to collecting the data and then writing up the report. We attended 24 dance events in total for this study.
Other resource requirements

No

Evaluation details

Evaluation type (e.g. process, outcome, cost-effectiveness)
Outcome evaluation
Activities evaluated

A quasi-experimental study design was utilised over three Australian study sites. Experimental sites were matched as closely as possible with control sites in relation to event size, music style and age range of attendees. The experimental group (n=278) received a unique ecstasy-related health message and general drug-related information while the control group (n=383) received general drug-related information only.

Type of evaluator (e.g. external consultant, internal evaluator)
Both internal and external
Evaluation results (Process evaluation)

The peer education methodology used was effective in disseminating information and the retention of information was relatively enduring. Among the experimental and control group, there were significant decreases in drug involvement at three month follow-up after the intervention, but other explanations for the decrease could not be excluded. Conclusion: The peer education methodology used was an effective health promotion tool among ecstasy users. The influence of peer-led interventions on drug use needs to be addressed by additional, methodologically robust studies. Findings highlight the important considerations for peer-led interventions.

Evaluation results (Cost effectiveness)

The total cost of the study was $330,000 (Australian Dollars)

Evaluation references

Technical Report 299, The Feasibility of Peer-Led Interventions to Deliver Health Information to Ecstasy and Related Drug Users, Bleeker, AM., Silins, E, Dillon, P, Simpson, M, Copeland, J and Hickey, K

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