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Exploring the use of drug trend data in the regional alcohol and other drug workforce
journal contributionposted on 2018-04-01, 00:00 authored by Matthew DunnMatthew Dunn, R Henshaw
OBJECTIVE: Drug trend data can inform appropriate policies to minimise drug-related harm, as well as assist in early detection and prevention. While Australia has a number of monitoring systems, none operate in regional areas. The aim of this study was to explore how drug trend and other data are used by the regional alcohol and other drug workforce. METHOD: Twenty-one key experts from regional Queensland were interviewed between November 2014 and August 2015. Key experts worked in or had contact with the broader alcohol and other drugs (AOD) field in the Darling Downs area of Queensland. Interviews were analysed thematically. SETTING: Darling Downs, Queensland. RESULTS: Two themes emerged from the analysis. There were differences in workforce needs, with those in the law and criminal justice areas believing they had access to good, current data. Those in the health sector differed, although the majority indicated that there did appear to be a knowledge gap related to their location in a regional area. CONCLUSIONS: Trends in the use of, and harms related to, substance use are well captured in urban areas, but less so in regional areas. This inhibits both our understanding of where substance use is changing, as well as how to best plan and respond.