Category Archives: Stakeholder involvement

EDPQS at the Sixth EUSPR Conference and Members’ Meeting

The Sixth Conference and Members’ Meeting of the European Society for Prevention Research (EUSPR) ( was held from 22-24 October 2015 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The conference, entitled “Changing Behaviour without Talking”, was attended by over 150 delegates, including researchers, policy-makers and practitioners, with an interest in prevention research and evidence-based prevention strategies.

There were a number of sessions relating to quality standards in general, as well as the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS) specifically.

Prof Harry Sumnall presenting the newly launched EDPQS Toolkits

Prof Harry Sumnall presenting the newly launched EDPQS Toolkits

Professor Harry Sumnall introduced the newly developed EDPQS Toolkits during a special lunch-time session in the afternoon of Day 2. Professor Sumnall briefly described the background to the EDPQS project, and then presented each new Toolkit in turn, highlighting potential benefits for different professional groups working in the prevention field.

Also on Day 2, Dr Gregor Burkhart presented a talk entitled “Quality Standards in Drug Demand Reduction: Prevention gave the example”. In this talk, he discussed the EU’s recently published Council conclusions on the implementation of minimum quality standards in drug demand reduction in the EU. Following the presentation, there was a heated debate regarding the feasibility of standards and optimal ways to introducing and promoting standards in EU Member States. Several members of the European Prevention Standards Partnership were present at the session and contributed to the debate with their insights gained from the EDPQS Phase I and Phase II projects.

Dr Gregor Burkhart presented the premises for developing European minimum standards for drug demand reduction

Dr Gregor Burkhart presented the premises for developing European minimum standards for drug demand reduction

On the final day of the conference, Session 13A on “Prevention policy and practice” featured a number of presentations relating to quality standards and professional qualification. The aim of the session was to present practical prevention experiences as well as the potential impact of policy in the prevention field, showing how practice and policy must go hand in hand in order to achieve effectiveness.

Dr Gregor Burkhart presented his recently published paper “International standards in prevention: How to influence prevention systems by policy interventions?” (the article can be accessed here for free); and Michal Miovsky from the Czech Republic presented work on a national qualification system for professionals in prevention (the abstract can be viewed here).

Dr Rachele Donini presented the development process behind EDPQS Toolkit 3

Dr Rachele Donini presented the development process behind EDPQS Toolkit 3

Also in this session, Dr Rachele Donini – one of the Italian EDPQS project partners – presented a talk entitled “Together we can: stakeholders involvement as a key factor in developing a training tool for prevention practitioners”. In the presentation Dr Donini explained the process that was used to develop EDPQS Toolkit 3. This Toolkit is a guide written for trainers to help them train policy makers, service managers, prevention providers, researchers, practitioners and university students regarding the European drug prevention quality standards (EDPQS). Dr Donini showed how stakeholders had been involved in the development of the toolkit, emphasising the stakeholders involvement as a key factor in the toolkit’s development. Stakeholders were representatives of the intended recipients of the training. She concluded that their knowledge and needs offered an interesting point of view in terms of the wording used, the training activities proposed and the timing of the training. The slides from her presentation are available here.

To access Rachele's slides, please click on the image above

To access the slides, please click on the image above

We were also pleased to be able to offer free hard copies of the EMCDDA’s Manual on EDPQS at one of the stands, which delegates were happy to take home. The UNODC’s International Standards on Drug Use Prevention were also available in print.

These were just some of the highlights of the conference relating to quality and quality standards in drug prevention, and we hope to be represented again at next year’s event.

For further information about the EUSPR 2015 conference:

  • The main conference web page:
  • The full programme of the conference, including all abstracts, can be found here.
  • You can also see what conference delegates posted on Twitter regarding the conference: #EUSPR15.
Impressions from EUSPR15 (Plenary talk by Hugo Harper, UK)

Impressions from EUSPR15 (Plenary talk by Hugo Harper, UK)

Impressions from EUSPR15 (coffee break)

Impressions from EUSPR15 (coffee break)

Travel report by Angelina Brotherhood and Rachele Donini.

Project Update #7: Final partnership meeting and EDPQS workshop in Athens

EDPQS Partnership

The Prevention Standards Partnership in Athens, Greece

From 23rd to 25th February 2015, the Prevention Standards Partnership met in Athens, Greece, to discuss progress on the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS) Phase II project as well as possible next steps. Additionally, on 26th February, Greek project partner UMHRI organised a national training event on EDPQS, involving practitioners and commissioners from all over Greece.

Discussing findings from the ‘pilot training’ – finalising the EDPQS Training Pack

With the Phase II project officially coming to an end in March 2015, the Partnership focused on necessary actions to finalise the toolkits being developed at this stage of the work. Special attention was given to the results of the ‘pilot training’ activity, which was carried out in six partner countries at the beginning of 2015 (Mentor International’s Prevention Hub reported on the London event). During this pilot, the Partners tested the forthcoming EDPQS Training Pack, which has been developed by project partners ASL 2 Savonese and LJMU. In total, 99 individuals participated in the pilot training, including practitioners, policy-makers, commissioners, national certifiers and University students.

The EDPQS Training Pack will include a trainer’s guide, PowerPoint slides and handouts that can be used to deliver training on how to use the EDPQS. The intention is to provide materials which, if read and followed carefully, will enable interested individuals to become EDPQS trainers and to introduce and promote the EDPQS in their own contexts.

Pilot training in Warsaw

Groupwork activity during the pilot training event in Warsaw, Poland

Results from the pilot training suggested that participants enjoyed the training, and that it helped them to appreciate the EDPQS more fully. Data about the pilot training were collected through observations, open discussions, a quiz and feedback forms. Partners reported that although many participants had known about the EDPQS previously, it was this training which helped participants to really understand how the standards can bring about practical benefits. Across all countries, participants’ favourite session was a group exercise during which the quality of a fictional prevention project was reviewed, using the EDPQS checklist from the Quick Guide. From the trainers’ perspective, project partners highlighted that more time should be allocated to the group exercises, as these were most beneficial to participants and facilitated a deeper engagement with the standards. At the meeting, the Partnership discussed these findings and agreed on necessary revisions of the EDPQS Training Pack.

Once the toolkits are ready for publication, the website will be updated accordingly and the Training Pack will then become available for download. The meeting also provided an opportunity to record video messages from Project Partners concerning the EDPQS project and the forthcoming toolkits, which will be added to the website alongside the toolkits.

Beyond Phase II

Plans for EDPQS activities beyond Phase II were also discussed. It was encouraging that all partners reported plans to continue work with the EDPQS at their national level. Besides promoting the toolkits, most Partners intend to use the EDPQS Training Pack to deliver training on the EDPQS in the months following Phase II. However, to better coordinate and sustain these efforts it was agreed that a Phase III project would be most beneficial. This confirmed the findings of a meeting held earlier this month in Bergeggi, Italy, under the auspices of Italian project partner Rachele Donini of ASL 2 Savonese to discuss plans for a potential Phase III. It was also reconfirmed that future work should focus on models of prevention systems and how the EDPQS can help to improve prevention policy-making and commissioning.

Promoting EDPQS in Greece

Greek project partners Ioulia Bafi and Anastasios Fotiou from the University Mental Health Research Institute (UMHRI), Greece, made use of the presence of the Partnership and organised a training event on the day following the partnership meeting. Some 20 practitioners and commissioners from different parts of Greece attended this event, many of whom had already been involved in earlier activities of the project and were interested to find out more.

Professor Harry Sumnall gave a lecture describing current concepts and emerging issues regarding prevention, and how quality standards may support prevention activities. The presentation expanded on some of the issues which will also be explored in the forthcoming EDPQS Position Paper authored by Harry.

This was followed by a session exploring different country prevention systems. Angelina Brotherhood highlighted that research has only begun in recent years to explore the differences between country prevention systems, and which elements of such systems are best suited to support high quality in drug prevention. Following this introduction, systems in four countries were presented and discussed: Sweden, Poland, United Kingdom, and Greece. Contributions were made by Anders Eriksson from the Social Development Unit, Social Services Administration, Stockholm, Sweden; Artur Malczewski from the Polish National Bureau for Drug Prevention (NBDP); Harry Sumnall from Liverpool John Moores University; and Sotia Makaroni from PRONOI, a Greek prevention provider who was involved in the ‘case study’ activity also undertaken in EDPQS Phase II. The current and potential role of quality standards was highlighted in each presentation.

A group exercise was then undertaken in line with the EDPQS Training Pack. In groups, participants discussed mechanisms which exist in Greece to ensure the quality of preventive work, and how these mechanisms could be improved and supported using EDPQS. Participants engaged very much with this discussion, and the session ended only because the facilitator had to leave for the airport.

The Greek hosts Ioulia and Anastasios concluded the day by asking participants to devise an action plan about how to promote quality and use of quality standards in their own work, their organisation and at the national level. Feedback from the group suggested the need for training on EDPQS, but also helped to identify a group of motivated stakeholders active at the national level who could support the promotion and application of EDPQS in Greece.

It was interesting for the EDPQS Project Partners to meet members of the Greek prevention community and to experience the enthusiasm for high quality prevention displayed by the group. Likewise, participants enjoyed meeting in person the authors of the EDPQS, as well as being able to network with their colleagues from other parts in Greece and to discuss how the quality of prevention can be further promoted and developed in this country. This was a perfect example for the kind of exchange and advocacy at national level which the EDPQS project hopes to set in motion.

Project Update #5: From needs assessment to toolkit development

Summary report on the needs assessment available

Needs assessment summary

Today we’re pleased to present a summary report on a needs assessment which we carried out over the first months of 2014 as part of our European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS) Phase II project. The needs assessment consisted of an online survey as well as discussion groups in seven project partner countries, and involved over 500 respondents with a stake in drug prevention, including practitioners, policy makers and others.

In the past, we’ve repeatedly heard that the EMCDDA Manual on the EDPQS is not sufficiently interactive and engaging to motivate a real change in professional attitudes and skills among the prevention workforce. Our overall aim in the needs assessment was therefore to develop a better understanding of the kind of support materials (‘toolkits’) needed to produce that change.

The feedback we received was extremely helpful to clarify what is needed to help implement and disseminate the EDPQS across Europe – in terms of content, but also in terms of presentation and style to ensure acceptability to target audiences. The results confirmed some of the assumptions we held based on previous fieldwork, but we also gained some new insights.

One interesting finding from the online survey related to the preferred format of toolkits. We had assumed that people would want to learn about the EDPQS using new and innovative approaches, such as webinars. However, respondents actually preferred traditional learning methods. Most people expressed a preference for small group workshops as a way to learn about the EDPQS. Sub-group analyses showed that it was particularly younger respondents who were interested in workshops. Large proportions of respondents also opted for self-learning using printed and static electronic materials, as well as lecture-style presentations. We found this surprising, given that self-learning and lectures are considered to be among the least engaging learning methods. However, these were also the most frequently utilised methods in practice, so respondents expressed a preference for methods which they are familiar with.

The discussion groups offered detailed insights into potential target audiences, contents and formats. Importantly, participants highlighted target audiences that we had not considered so explicitly, namely: school directors (head teachers); local government representatives; ‘opinion leaders’ in prevention who could help to promote the EDPQS (e.g., professional associations); and young people and their parents. In total, we were able to distinguish 14 groups who may be targeted with support materials. The needs assessment helped to identify priority target audiences among these 14 groups.

Download the summary report

The summary report contains more information about the purpose of the needs assessment as well as the key findings. The more detailed background reports are available upon request.

Vienna meeting to kick-off toolkit development

In the report, we also present initial ideas for the toolkits to be developed in response to the needs assessment. Broadly speaking, we envisage that the toolkits will serve three different purposes:

  • Toolkit 1: Supporting decision makers (e.g., funders and school directors) to select prevention activities for funding or other forms of support
  • Toolkit 2: Supporting service managers, programme developers and other practitioners to review and improve their own prevention work using the EDPQS
  • Toolkit 3: Providing materials to help promote high quality in prevention, including informational leaflets, presentations, training materials, advocacy papers, and guidelines on how to adapt the EDPQS for own purposes

The Prevention Standards Partnership has established three working groups, each of which is charged with developing a toolkit. From May to July, working groups reviewed all the available information (from the needs assessment but also previous project activities) to develop detailed work plans outlining the purpose and contents of the toolkits. Special attention was given to the question: what are the practical benefits of the toolkit for the identified target audiences?

On 22nd July 2014, the three working group leaders Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary, ASL Milano, Italy, and Liverpool John Moores University, UK, met in Vienna, Austria to review and finalise all three work plans. First drafts of the toolkits should be available soon, and the final toolkits are due to be published in spring 2015.

The project now enters a critical stage: the development of the materials according to the agreed work plans. But this will not be a process behind closed doors. On the contrary, we are continuing to involve stakeholders – many of who participated in the online survey and discussion groups – in the toolkit development. Stakeholders can contribute by commenting on the usefulness of the materials being developed, by making specific suggestions regarding the contents, sharing their lessons learnt or relevant external materials with us, and so on.

If you would like to become involved as a stakeholder, please contact EDPQS Project Manager Jeff Lee at

Project Update #4: Reflections on the 2nd Project Meeting and the future of the EDPQS Project

Prevention Standards PartnershipFrom 26-28th February 2014, the Prevention Standards Partnership met in Milan, Italy, to discuss progress on the EDPQS Phase II project activities and to plan forthcoming activities. The two main issues discussed are outlined below.


(i) Who would benefit most from using the EDPQS?

Over the past months we have been exploring, through case studies and an online survey, how the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS) might be applied in practice and what support the prevention community requires to undertake high quality drug prevention. As a consequence, we discussed who would benefit most from using the EDPQS; how they might benefit from using them; and what the Partnership needs to do to facilitate this. Responses to the online survey suggested that the main target audiences for support materials (to be developed in the next stage of Phase II) should be:

  • Policy makers
  • Programme developers
  • Drug prevention practitioners
  • Trainers

It was further suggested that support materials should facilitate informal/formal review of prevention activities, as well as support their planning and design, and include delivery of workshops/training on the EDPQS. These findings were in line with the results from the case studies. Participants in the case studies had benefitted most from the EDPQS as a tool to review their own prevention activities, to identify strengths and weaknesses, and as a general framework to conceptualise prevention. To complete the formal needs assessment, project partners will be carrying out focus groups in March and April, where these topics will be discussed in greater detail. However, we will continue involving target audiences in the development of the support materials.

(ii) How to ensure the sustainability of the project achievements?

The EDPQS were developed in Phase I as a European reference framework for high quality drug prevention. In the current Phase II, we aim to ‘prepare’ implementation of the EDPQS by developing support materials and pilot training. This suggests that Phase III should focus on implementing the EDPQS: by disseminating the support materials, including training and provision of other tailored support. These activities would ensure that the EDPQS are a ‘living’ tool, not a final product sitting on a bookshelf. But such activities require structures and resources that are beyond the capacities of the Prevention Standards Partnership in its current form. The question remains as to which organisations could take our efforts in promoting high quality drug prevention to the next level?

To inform our thinking on these matters, colleagues from Italy, Poland and Sweden shared their experiences of translating and using the EDPQS within their own cultural contexts. These presentations highlighted the regional and national differences with regard to how the EDPQS are perceived and how easy or difficult it can be to translate and disseminate them. This suggested the need for different dissemination strategies in different countries or even regions. Should future activities consequently take place at regional, national and/or international levels? Should we pursue a bottom-up and/or a top-down approach? Are we to promote the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards or national versions of them? The answers to these questions have implications for what activities a Phase III might include and who would be in the best position to undertake these.

We were unable to find answers to these important questions and we will no doubt be considering them in-depth over the coming months.

Please feel free to get in touch if you would like to participate in our discussions or future activities.

Project Update #3: Online survey launched – Please participate

survey_thumbnailUsing the Quality Standards: Who wants what?

We need your views –  Please participate in our online survey

One major outcome of the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS) Phase II project will be the provision of materials to support those working in the drug prevention community with respect to using the Quality Standards. These materials will include:

  • Support materials to help in applying the Standards to current practice
  • Training and “train the trainer” courses for different prevention providers and policy makers
  • Indicators to help provide evidence for the achievement of the Standards
  • Expert publications on specific issues related to quality standards in prevention

These materials will help all those working in the prevention field to develop their work in accordance with sound principles and evidence.

We are undertaking an online survey to obtain information from those engaged in different aspects of drug prevention to inform this development.

The survey is available in the following languages:


We hope you will feel able to complete the survey and give your views. This will help to ensure that the support materials will:

a.    Be targeted at the appropriate groups
b.    Focus on the appropriate content needs
c.    Be offered in the appropriate format to facilitate their active use.

Your views are essential if we are to achieve this. We would like all those who are involved in drug prevention at whatever level to complete the survey. This includes commissioners, policy makers, programme developers, service/programme managers, practitioners and other prevention providers, researchers, evaluators, programme accreditors. The questionnaire aims to use your expertise and experience to inform us of your needs and views of what is required at the field level.

Your participation will of course be anonymous but extremely valuable. Please help us by completing the survey before February 12, 2014.

Our thanks in anticipation of your support.

Professor Harry Sumnall
Lead, EDPQS Phase II Project
Centre for Public Health
Liverpool John Moores University

Jeff Lee
Project Manager, EDPQS Phase II Project
Centre for Public Health
Liverpool John Moores University

on behalf of the Prevention Standards Partnership