Project manager: Dagmar Hedrich
Low-threshold agencies that provide social and health services including counselling, needle and syringe programmes, shelter and medical care are increasingly common across Europe. The low-threshold approach aims to reach more addicts with problematic use patterns earlier and to remain in contact with a highly problematic group of drug users in order to prevent health damage while not requesting abstinence. Low-threshold services represent a unique opportunity for the provision of specific health services, such as safer use education, vaccination campaigns, and increasingly also the treatment of infectious diseases.
Despite being an important entry point into the system of care, and potentially in contact with a large group or even the majority of drug users with problematic drug use patterns, data availability on service provision is low and information on levels of coverage of the target group of problem drug users often difficult to obtain.
This project aims to improve the quality of information on low-threshold service delivery and on client characteristics and needs. It is embedded in the EMCDDA project area harm reduction and complements epidemiological work of the EMCDDA in the areas demand for treatment and drug-related infectious diseases.
A first EMCDDA harm reduction expert meeting in December 2004 focused on 'Data-collection at Low-threshold services for Drug Users: Tools, Quality and Coverage' and allowed to gain a first overview of reporting concepts, modalities and tools applied in service monitoring at low-threshold agencies. At a follow-up meeting in June 2005, experts carried out further scoping work, focusing on ways how to increase availability and quality of harm reduction information at European level.
Under the EU-funded Correlation project, a joint expert group on data collection brought together experts from Catalonia, France, Ireland, Hungary and Norway in a working group chaired by the EMCDDA to develop a protocol for collecting data on harm reduction services provision. Following a field test with 15 voluntary agencies in Austria, Bulgaria, Catalonia, France, Hungary, Poland and Portugal in 2007, the protocol was published in 2008.