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Perceived Extent of Drug Problems

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An important feature of some campaigns is to raise awareness of the extent of a problem. An important aspect of formative evaluation of such programmes would be to gauge the perception of the size and extent of the drug problem. It is especially valuable in judging the seriousness of a problem if other items are included (as below) to provide a baseline for such judgements.
Relevant Studies
Views of the general public on drugs education
Leitner, M., Shapland, J., & Wiles, P. (1993). Drug usage and drugs prevention: The views of the general public. London: HMSO.

This study was carried out in four major cities in the UK, based on interviews with 5,000 people. Two different samples were drawn in each city, so the report is able to discuss in detail the views and habits of both average members of the public as well as individuals who are considered at risk of drug usage. Among the topics examined are the kinds of people who use drugs, the frequency with which they are used, the public views on different methods of drugs control including drugs education.

Getting through to the audience in a community programme
Murray, P., Shelley, E., Daly, L., Collins, C., Conroy, R., & Graham, I. (1995). Target audience penetration by a Healthy Lifestyle Promotion Programme: Results from the Kilkenny Health Project. The Economic and Social Review, 26, 261-282.

This study analyses the effects of a community health promotion programme in Ireland between 1985 and 1992. The study examined awareness of the project, ranging from having heard of the project to being involved in meetings that were supportive of the project. The results, based on a random survey of the general population showed that there are different levels of awareness of particular features of the campaign. In turn, this awareness is influenced by gender and socio-economic background of respondents. The study has implications for the study of awareness and implementation of media campaigns.

Planning and implementing prevention based on needs
Scott, C.G., & Ambrosan, D.L. (1995). The importance of individualising and marketing campus prevention programmes to meet needs of specific campus audiences. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 40, 21-36.

Rather than being concerned with implementation, this study was concerned with planning and needs analysis. Attitudes, substance use patterns and were examined on three college campuses. Significant campus and gender differences were found in data gathered for the 78-item survey. Subjects responded to questions about their desire to have alcohol and other drugs at parties, the role of alcohol and other drugs on their efforts to experiment relax and feel fit. The results provided information on which programmes to combat abuse might be based.

Knowing and experiencing drug use and drug users
Wright, J.D., & Pearl, L. (1995). Knowledge and experience of young people regarding drug misuse, 1969-94. British Medical Journal, 310, 20-24.

This study is of relevance to the sources and nature of young people's knowledge about drugs. The purpose of this study was to monitor young people's knowledge and experience of illicit drugs between 1969 and 1994 at intervals of five years, in three English secondary schools. The results indicated that the proportion who knew someone taking drugs more than quadrupled from 15% to 65% and the proportion who had been offered drugs increased from 5% to 45%. With regard to naming of drugs, the proportion who mentioned ecstasy, amphetamines and crack cocaine increased while the proportion who mentioned opiates decreased significantly. To feel big, to show off, and similar reasons have remained the main perceived reason for taking drugs. Television has continued to be the main source of information about drugs.


Page last updated: Wednesday, 21 July 2004