Quality assurance

A number of recent studies focus on innovative and controversial interventions such as consumption rooms, heroin prescription or pill testing. While these types of intervention remain controversial, decision-makers are in need of information on the effects of such strategies in order to provide the basis for a more informed debate.

European research on psychosocial interventions in prevention and treatment is lacking. In the area of prevention, evidence from North American research has been widely used. However, both the objectives and the settings of prevention differ from the European situation. Nevertheless, it has been possible to replicate some successful approaches, and this evidence is increasingly taken into consideration in policy making. Although a substantial body of research and evidence-based knowledge exists regarding medically assisted treatment, partly funded by the pharmacological industry, large national evaluation studies provide little direction as to best practice of other treatment modalities.

The transfer of scientific evidence to policy and practice can be improved. Closer cooperation and greater mutual understanding between research and decision-makers are urgently needed. Only a few countries are reviewing their school-based prevention practice on the basis of scientific evidence. While scientific evidence is increasingly acknowledged in the area of prevention of infectious diseases, it seems that in many cases quality of care is not taken into sufficient consideration in the areas of drug-related treatment and services for drug users in prisons. Scientific evidence is largely lacking in the area of alternatives to prison. However, more formalised quality assurance is gaining ground in Member States with the establishment of guidelines, quality standards and accreditation systems.