Virtually limitless? Contemplating virtual reality in prevention research

This month, Samuel Tomczyk invites us to take the plunge into his research area of virtual reality, and debunks some of the main myths surrounding its everyday application and its potential use for prevention research. Whether this should be limited to ‘lab work’ is the question asked by the author: virtual reality can provide invaluable training for dealing with the most precarious situations, but is it truly replicable?

Continue reading

Sexual health promotion in adolescents: From the schools to the shelters

In this post, Dr Alexandra Morales, Assistant Professor at Miguel Hernández University (Spain), shares details of an exciting new project to promote positive sexual health behaviours in adolescents who are living in children’s shelters in Spain. The project is being conducted in collaboration with Dr. Espada, Full Professor at Miguel Hernández University; Dr Orgilés, Full Professor at Miguel Hernández University; and Dr Lightfoot, Professor at University of California San Francisco. Alexandra explains this new line of research, why this work is so important, and what the next steps are for the project.

Continue reading

Come on let’s TWIST again! Early Career Bursaries @LxAddictions 2017

In this post, Dijana Jerković and Larissa J. Maier share their experiences of securing funding through the TWIST project, in order to attend LxAddictions 2017. The aim is to describe the TWIST training and the application process to support other early career researchers who may want to contribute to the upcoming third conference in 2019.

Continue reading

The challenge of recruiting licensed premises to host prevention research

In September 2016, I embarked on my journey to a doctorate at Oxford Brookes University. Still enraptured having been awarded a studentship, I felt invincible; my study was going to be a trail blazer. Fuelled by temerity, I dismissed suggestions of hurdles, barriers, and walls I would have to climb. After all, my tenacity would enable me to leap higher, push harder and offer a leg-up to propel me over those walls. Oh the innocence!

Continue reading

Stay Safe @ Uni: Exploring students’ views about safety and sexual consent

In this post, Dr Emma L Davies, Lecturer in Psychology at Oxford Brookes University, shares details of an exciting new project to inform prevention activities addressing sexual violence in University settings. The project takes place in collabration with Dr Sarah Jayne Camp, Psychology Demonstrator at Oxford Brookes University, and Anna-Sherlock Smith MSc, Independent Researcher. Emma explains why this work is so important and is also able to present initial findings from this new research.

How the project started

In 2013, I attended a talk by Laura Bates, founder of Everyday Sexism, where she discussed the problem of sexual assault on university campuses. Colleagues and I felt that we wanted to do something to explore these issues further. However, at the time, I was writing up my PhD thesis and searching for employment and so it was put on the back burner for a while. Last September, a chance encounter with the Head of Campus Security led to a conversation about what approach we should take to tackle issues around sexual harassment and safety on nights out. Continue reading

Informing prevention through big data – The Global Drug Survey

This month’s blog post comes from Larissa Maier, who is voluntarily involved in the Global Drug Survey (GDS) besides her actual job, believing that this engagement can make a difference. In this blog post, she describes how she joined the GDS and shares the very first results from the GDS2017. She concludes with her view on how these results relate to global drug prevention. 

Most early career researchers start their careers by focusing on one main research question to become an expert in that specific area of research. In my case, my PhD studies addressed the prevalence and patterns of substance use for cognitive enhancement. However, after having developed a questionnaire on recreational drug use in Swiss nightlife settings as part of my master thesis, I remained connected to the Swiss projects aimed at early detection of harmful substance use. Having been a regular clubber myself back then, I could link my personal observations in the field to the data derived from the questionnaires. My knowledge about local and national drug use habits of recreational drug users increased sharply. A logical next step was joining the Global Drug Survey (GDS) to understand the superior picture and to put my findings into context. In this blog post, I will tell you more about how I became a member of the GDS Core Research Team and how our findings contribute to the prevention of harmful substance use among youth and adults across the world. Continue reading

How to promote effective evidence-based prevention when no one is listening?

Good intentions but ineffective or even harmful prevention measures? In this blog post, Sanela Talič from the Institute for Research and Development UTRIP, Slovenia, shares her critical insights to current and past developments in the field of prevention research. She makes a strong point to implement existing prevention programs that have proven effective and calls for an increased collaboration between the different stakeholders and experts in the field.

The topic of my second blog was encouraged by recent events and conferences in Europe and some insider information from our allies – Slovenian NGO’s active in the field of prevention. Overall, 10 years of intensive prevention work have resulted in only few sympathizers who actually understand the basic principles of prevention. Often, we receive very valuable information about prevention in schools from them. So, let me start from the beginning…

Continue reading

A European perspective: Traineeship at the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

In today’s blog post, Stefanie Helmer, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology, and Health Economics at the Charité University Medical Center in Berlin, Germany, shares with us what it’s like to complete a traineeship at the European Union’s central agency on drug-related issues: the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) in Lisbon, Portugal.

When you work in an interdisciplinary team and you are the one responsible for drug prevention, this goes along with a lot of comments. You are tired on a Monday morning? You can be sure that everybody will ask you about your “field research” at the weekend. If there is a dinner with colleagues, you are the one that is responsible for selecting the wine because you certainly know all about it. So, I thought: let’s go the whole hog – apply for a traineeship in Lisbon at the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), the people working there are never going to ask you that kind of questions1.

Even though this was not the real reason behind my application, I was convinced to apply for a traineeship in November 2015 and luckily got it. And now I would like to convince you to do so, too.

The EMCDDA building in Lisbon (Picture: © Stefanie Helmer)

Being a trainee at the EMCDDA

I applied for a position in the prevention unit. Continue reading

  1. As most of you may know, the EMCDDA is an agency of the European Commission that was set up to provide information about drug use and the responses to it in the European Union’s member states, Norway and Turkey. If you are interested in their work, you can find more details here: []

Do GPs want or need formal support following a patient suicide?

Dr Pooja Saini is a researcher and Chartered Psychologist at the University of Liverpool and currently involved in suicide prevention research. In this blog post, she will share her research and describe what role GPs and Primary Care providers can play in suicide prevention. Additionally, her research includes the opposite effect: the effect patient suicide has on GPs. 

Suicide is a major health problem. In England, around 5,000 people end their own lives annually – that is one death every two hours and at least ten times that number of attempts, according to the Office for National Statistics. Suicide is a tragedy that is life altering for those bereaved and can be an upsetting event for the community and local services involved. Our previous research demonstrated the: Continue reading

Substance use in Brazilian migrants in the UK: the role of acculturation

This month’s contribution comes from Martha Canfield, who is a researcher at the National Addiction Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College in London, UK. In this blog, she describes her research about substance use of Brazilian migrants in the UK, and how acculturation is associated with this behavior.

I am taking the opportunity to describe here some of the findings from my PhD research which explored the extent to which the process of acculturation is placing Brazilian migrants in the UK at risk for substance use1. Although this study looked at a population of Brazilians aged 18 and over residing in the UK, it presents findings that have the potential to be translated to other migratory groups, younger populations of migrants and minority ethnic groups, and to different contexts (e.g. countries).

Continue reading

  1. Canfield, M. (2016). Predictors of substance use in Brazilian migrants in the UK: The role of acculturation. Unpublished PhD thesis. University of Roehampton. []