Category Archives: Travel reports

Toolkits available in Polish & Conference in Warsaw on “Quality in Prevention”

On 5-6 October this year, an international conference entitled “Quality in Prevention” was held in Warsaw by the National Bureau for Drug Prevention (KBPN) and Mazovian Centre for Social Policy (MCPS). The conference was attended by over 140 participants, including 20 foreign experts from Cypress, Georgia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, Ukraine and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

The annual meeting for representatives of local governments was opened by Mr Jarosław Pinkas, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Health.


A key aim of the conference was to present new Polish publications concerning the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS) – the three EDPQS Toolkits 1, 2 and 4 have been translated into Polish by the MCPS and are now available in hard copy and online:

During the session devoted to the EDPQS, an MCPS representative (Piotr Oniszk) discussed the new publications by the Prevention Standards Partnership, while an Italian expert (Rachele Donini) presented the EDPQS training toolkit (see Rachele’s slides here). In Italy, the European Standards have been applied in the context of University education. Moreover, representatives of the city of Malmö, Sweden (Mats Glans and Ulf Ljungberg) discussed the implementation of the standards within the Three Cities project. The Lithuanian expert outlined the progress of implementing the EDPQS and presented results of the evaluation of EDPQS training events which had been conducted by a Polish Reitox Focal Point staff member in Vilnius in June 2016 (for more information view our previous blog post or go to In 2016, two additional one-day EDPQS training events were organized: first in Poland for Wrocław City prevention specialists on 21 October, second in Latvia on 30 October in Riga (lecturer – EDPQS Project Partner Artur Malczewski).

The remaining sessions addressed other topics relating to drug prevention:

Information on the situation of drugs and drug addiction in their home countries was also presented by the experts from Georgia and Ukraine, while the Polish speakers discussed issues related to the Act of 15 September 2015 on Public Health and the National Health Programme (Ministry of Health, Municipal Office of the City of Wrocław). Moreover, speakers from the cities of Wrocław, Pabianice and Płock presented activities of local governments in the field of drug prevention.

The representative of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction presented two EMCDDA reports: one was devoted to the current situation regarding drugs, while the other discussed drug policies in large cities. The former report is available in English as well as Polish at the EMCDDA’s website:; while the second report is available in English from

During the session devoted to recommended drug prevention programmes, a new website ( launched by the National Bureau for Drug Prevention (KBPN) was shown. The system of recommended drug prevention programmes has been operational in Poland since 2010 and is the result of the collaboration of four institutions: National Bureau for Drug Prevention, State Agency for the Prevention of Alcohol-Related Problems, Centre for Education Development as well as Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology. In addition, conclusions from the 3rd National Conference entitled Drugs – Drug Addiction. Policy, Science and Practice were presented, a conference organized in June this year by the National Bureau for Drug Prevention and the Polish Foundation for Humanitarian Aid Res Humanae for local government officials.

One of the last conference sessions featured the presentation of the Warsaw Declaration, which was developed during the 2nd International Urban Drug Policies Conference (UDPC2016), organized in February this year in Warsaw by the Polish Drug Policy Network, Municipal Office of the City of Warsaw and National Bureau for Drug Prevention (

To view the full conference agenda, please click here.

For more information regarding EDPQS in Poland, please view our Poland country page.

– Artur Malczewski

New video available: Harry Sumnall presents at UNODC

In December 2015, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) held a Scientific Consultation on Prevention of Drug Use and Treatment of Drug Use Disorders, which featured a series of presentations on prevention and treatment related topics.

Speakers included, to name but just a few, Sheppard Kellam, John Strang, Vladimir Poznyak, William Crano, Wayne Hall, Marcia Ferri, David Foxcroft, as well as EDPQS project lead Harry Sumnall.

The UNODC has now made the presentations available online. You can watch Harry’s presentation about the EDPQS by clicking on the image below:

Prof Harry Sumnall

We are sure you will also enjoy the other talks; you can find the entire playlist at

Happy watching!

Tajikistan: seminar on quality standards

EDPQS researcher Angelina Brotherhood has recently returned from Dushanbe, Tajikistan, where she facilitated a three-day seminar entitled “Prevention Strategy and Policy Makers” on behalf of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Angelina facilitating the discussion on prevention systems

Angelina facilitating a discussion on prevention systems

The seminar was attended by some 18 participants, representing government agencies, local non-governmental organisations, as well as international organisations. The aim of the seminar was to introduce participants to the UNODC International Standards on Drug Use Prevention (see our Related activities page), as well as the UNODC’s forthcoming guidance on evaluation. Through group-work, participants were supported in assessing the existing provision of prevention activities in Tajikistan and to identify areas for improvement based on international guidance.

Similar events have been organised by the UNODC in some 60 countries around the world, reaching over 250 policy-makers and practitioners working in the drug prevention field.

The European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS) are also presented at these seminars, as they complement the UNODC International Standards on Drug Use Prevention well. While the UNODC International Standards describe what types of policies and interventions have been found to successfully address drug use or relevant mediators, the EDPQS describe the formal processes and structures required to implement high quality drug prevention. Put simply, the UNODC International Standards on Drug Use Prevention describe ‘what’ to do in prevention, while the EDPQS describe ‘how’ to do prevention (Burkhart 2015).

At this event, the EDPQS were presented in a half-hour session and hard copies of the EPDQS manual were also available for participants. The UNODC funded the translation of the presentation slides into Russian, meaning that for the first time, EDPQS materials are now also available in Russian.

Angelina Brotherhood reflected on the event as follows:

“It was a great experience talking to Tajik policy-makers and practitioners about drug prevention activities in their country, and I’m grateful that the UNODC invited me to hold this workshop on their behalf. Tajikistan faces unique challenges. The country is still recovering from a civil war that lasted for several years in the 1990s, whilst still being confronted with the horrors of war in its neighbouring country Afghanistan. Its proximity to Afghanistan also means proximity to the drugs trade. Seminar participants also mentioned the ‘incomplete families’ produced by emigration. Many people (especially men) leave Tajikistan in search for work, and these labour migrants’ wives were identified as a vulnerable population. I was also interested to learn that women from disadvantaged backgrounds typically cannot afford to pay to give birth in hospital, and thus home births are common among this group. Participants also spoke of the role of local traditions and superstitions which can prevent women from undergoing medical examinations. These women are consequently hard to reach and the seminar participants identified the need for greater efforts to provide medical and psychosocial services to these groups.

There are a number of different prevention activities being implemented in Tajikistan. Notably, manualised evidence-based programmes are also being adapted and piloted by the UNODC. Participants were concerned about how to sustain this work, ensuring that pilots are transformed into routine activities with high coverage of target populations. This, of course, is not a challenge faced only in this country, as we have heard similar reports from European countries throughout the EDPQS Phase I and Phase II projects.

Besides the discussion on content, participants were very interested to learn about the EDPQS. They appreciated the project cycle as a systematic way for thinking about and planning prevention. Currently, there are no national standards available in Tajikistan or any other regulatory frameworks to specify quality requirements for drug prevention. One of the outcomes of the meeting was the decision to develop national quality standards for drug prevention in Tajikistan. We discussed that such a consensus-building process, if organised carefully with involvement of all relevant stakeholders, could also help to strengthen the collaboration and coordination among prevention stakeholders in this country. Participants were interested to hear about the experiences from other countries regarding the development of quality standards, and I was glad that with EDPQS Toolkit 4, I was able to offer them a written step-by-step guide to the development of quality standards.

A model prevention system, as proposed in the UNODC International Standards on Drug Use Prevention

A model prevention system, as proposed in the UNODC International Standards on Drug Use Prevention

On the last day, there was a discussion of the national prevention system which I really enjoyed. We tried to map the Tajik prevention system against the model prevention system proposed in the UNODC International Standards on Drug Use Prevention (see above). This was a really useful process to help visualise existing organisations and structures, as well as to identify areas where things are not yet working as well as they could. One of the things to come out of this discussion was the double role of international organisations and donors. On the one hand, these organisations play a key role in planning and implementing drug prevention activities in this country. On the other hand, these activities are outside the remit of the government, and thus there may be issues with fragmentation and sustainability. It can also lead to a dependence on foreign money and expertise. Participants at the seminar all agreed that a sustainable and coherent approach to drug prevention requires strong national coordination mechanisms and delivery structures, including structures to train up a professional prevention workforce locally.

The key question of course is how to put all the good plans and intentions resulting from this meeting into practice. Over the three days, we documented all the recommendations and actions arising from the meeting. We were able to identify those individuals and organisations who are interested to take this work forward. Thankfully, the National Centre for Drugs Monitoring and Prevention volunteered to host a follow-up meeting during which the action plan could be developed further. The atmosphere upon closing the meeting was really positive, and I hope that participants will be able to continue the work and address some of the challenges which we identified together. The prevention system in Tajikistan is still in its infancy, so this is an opportune moment to set the course for a quality approach to drug prevention.”

Plenary discussion

Plenary discussion

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.

Quick Guide available in Swedish

Quick Guide SwedishAn adapted version of the ‘quick guide’ to the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS), published in 2013 by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) in collaboration with the Prevention Standards Partnership, is now available in Swedish.

The Swedish Quick Guide was produced as part of the “Three Cities” project (Swedish title: Trestad2). This was a joint initiative between the three largest cities in Sweden (Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg) aimed at improving the policies and interventions addressing young people’s cannabis use. A broader aim of the project was to promote quality and workforce competencies in prevention across Sweden, and hence a special sub-project sought to adapt the European quality standards to the Swedish context.

Work on the adaptation started in 2010 and was implemented as a long-term consensus-building process involving policy makers, practitioners and researchers from the three cities as well as from across the country. The project received financial support from the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs under the national ANDT (Alcohol, Narcotic drugs, Doping and Tobacco) Strategy as well as from the city government. The Public Health Agency of Sweden actively supported the adaptation of the material and is now a key player in disseminating the output.


The National Reference Group at a working group meeting with Prof Harry Sumnall and Angelina Brotherhood (Stockholm, May 2014).

Adaptation of the EDPQS to the Swedish context proceeded in collaboration with the EU Prevention Standards Partnership. The Social Development Unit, Social Services Administration, City of Stockholm formally joined the Partnership in 2013 as an Associate Partner, and the Swedish adaptation of EDPQS served as a case study during the EDPQS Phase II project (as reported in a previous blog entry). The picture above shows Prof Harry Sumnall and Angelina Brotherhood attending a meeting in Stockholm in May 2014 to discuss the EDPQS with the national reference group which had been set up to inform the adaptation.

The EU Prevention Standards Partnership followed the Swedish adaptation process with great interest, and the experiences gathered by the Swedish colleagues were essential for the development of EDPQS Toolkit 4. In fact, it was these colleagues’ questions and learning that prompted the development of our guide to adapting and disseminating the EDPQS.

Further information on the Swedish experience of adapting the EDPQS can be found in the Toolkit 4 Example Projects and on our Sweden country page. On that page you can also access a video interview with Anders Eriksson, City of Stockholm, and his colleagues Mats Glans and Ulf Ljungberg, City of Malmö.

All resources to support use of the Standards can be found in our resources section.

Conference talk on EDPQS now available to watch online

Last year in October, EDPQS researcher Angelina Brotherhood presented the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS) at the International Symposium on Drug Policy and Public Health in Istanbul, Turkey.

This 16 min talk is now available to watch online below:

If you have trouble accessing the video above, you can also view the talk on YouTube at

CND 2015 Side event: “Developing and promoting quality standards in drug demand reduction”

This year’s meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) featured a side event on quality standards. The event was a joint initiative of the European Union, the Government of Latvia, the African Union Commission, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the UNODC Drug Prevention and Health Branch, and the Prevention Standards Partnership (represented by Liverpool John Moores University, UK).

Ambassadors Györgyi Martin Zanathy and Bahtijors Hasans

The event was opened by Ambassador Györgyi Martin Zanathy, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the International Organisations in Vienna. Ambassador Zanathy emphasised that promotion of quality in the field of drug demand reduction is a priority for the European Union, with three projects funded to this effect – the “Study on the Development of an EU Framework for Minimum quality standards and benchmarks in drug demand reduction” (EQUS) (see our related activities page) and, specifically in the area of prevention, the EDPQS Phase I and Phase II projects. She further praised the efforts of the Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSF) in this regard, referring also to the CSF’s recent submission of a Thematic Paper on EU minimum quality standards for drug demand reduction to the Horizontal Working Party on Drugs (HDG).

The event was chaired by Ambassador Bahtijors Hasans, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Latvia to the UN, OSCE and Other International Organizations in Vienna. In his introductory statement, Ambassador Hasans stressed how projects to promote quality standards encourage different stakeholders from government and civil society to come to the negotiation table and to work together towards an evidence-based approach to addressing drug-related needs.

These opening remarks were followed by four presentations to introduce ongoing efforts in this area from different parts of the world.

Dr Gilberto Gerra referring to the treatment of Lymphoma to emphasise the importance of quality standards

Dr Gilberto Gerra, Chief of the Drug Prevention and Health Branch at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), used examples from the medical field to highlight the importance of quality standards. He argued that few people would agree to medical treatment by a doctor who refuses to follow an evidence-based protocol to treat their condition, preferring instead to follow intuition. This, however, was the reality for many activities in drug demand reduction. Dr Gerra argued that the evidence is clear on what doesn’t work to address drug-related needs, but that this knowledge does not sufficiently inform policy and practice. The UNODC has published, and is continuing to develop, standards and guidelines for prevention and treatment. Yet the challenge remains to make these documents widely known and used in different contexts.

Presentation by Ambassador Dr Olawale Maiyegun

Ambassador Dr Olawale Maiyegun, Director of Social Affairs at the African Union Commission (AUC), presented work undertaken by the African Union to raise the quality of treatment for drug dependence. Activities by the AUC include training the workforce, for example as part of the UNODC’s Treatnet projects or using the Universal Treatment Curriculum (UTC). Differences in countries’ public health care systems, along with cultural and socio-economic factors, were one of the challenges which the AUC faces in this process. However, according to Ambassador Maiyegun, the major challenge for the African continent lies in the over-reliance on supply reduction and criminal justice approaches. He commented that treatment was virtually non-existent in some countries, and where it did, treatment practices could be of such a poor standard that they led to greater harm than drug use itself. In this context, promoting quality standards offered an opportunity to redress the balance between supply and demand reduction, and to advocate for greater investment in treatment.

Presentation by Mr Jānis Bekmanis

Next up was Mr Jānis Bekmanis, President of the Horizontal Working Party on Drugs (HDG) during the Latvian Presidency at the Council of the European Union. Mr Bekmanis embedded the projects to promote quality standards within the EU’s wider activities to support high quality drug demand reduction, referring also to the EMCDDA’s Best Practice Portal. Mr Bekmanis was unable to share details with the plenum about the EU minimum quality standards in drug demand reduction, as these standards are still under discussion by the EU Member States. He did disclose that they would include standards for prevention, risk and harm reduction, as well as treatment and rehabilitation. Across these three areas, the standards would reflect common principles oriented toward human rights, monitoring and evaluation, and target population needs. Once the standards have been agreed on by Member States, Mr Bekmanis suggested that further work would be required to support and monitor implementation of the standards.

Prof Harry Sumnall

Finally, Prof Harry Sumnall, Professor in Substance Use at Centre for Public Health, Liverpool John Moores University, spoke on behalf of the Prevention Standards Partnership. Prof Sumnall highlighted that promoting quality in European prevention required collaboration with many partners. This included not only the members of the Prevention Standards Partnership but also other projects and organisations committed to high-quality drug prevention, such as the Three Cities project in Sweden or COPOLAD. A major challenge in promoting quality was how to support the prevention workforce to use and implement quality standards. Prof Sumnall argued that for a true improvement in professional practice, it is not sufficient to influence prevention providers as individuals and organisations, but that policy-makers must create the structures necessary to promote quality. He cited examples from the Czech Republic and Croatia, where the quality of preventive activities is considered when selecting projects for governmental funding. Across Europe, these examples represented the exception rather than the rule. The outputs from the EDPQS Phase II project would therefore include a guide for decision-makers to help revise funding and commissioning systems toward a greater emphasis on quality.

The side event was attended by around 50 participants, and several delegates approached Prof Sumnall over the course of the CND to discuss the role of standards in improving the quality of drug demand reduction activities, including representatives from the Australian Drug Foundation and the New Zealand Drug Foundation.

– Angelina Brotherhood

Harry Sumnall and Angelina Brotherhood with some of the colleagues who helped realise this side event (Jānis Bekmanis, Evika Siliņa and Agnese Veisberga, Government of Latvia; Artur Malczewski, National Bureau for Drug Prevention, Poland; Giovanna Campello, UNODC Drug Prevention and Health Branch) Introducing the EDPQS project Prevention Standards Partnership

Audience at the side event Audience at the side event Harry Sumnall & Angelina Brotherhood with John Rogerson, Australian Drug Foundation, and Ross Bell, NZ Drug Foundation

Silke Vitt was available at the EMCDDA stand to provide further information EDPQS Manual could be picked up during the event as well as from EMCDDA stand Project partner Artur Malczewski of the National Bureau for Drug Prevention (NBDP), Poland, was also present during the CND and referred to the EDPQS during another side event when describing the Polish prevention system

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.

Interview with Angelina Brotherhood in Polish magazine for drug professionals

The November Swiat Problemowissue of „Świat Problemów” (nr 11/2014; features an interview with EDPQS project researcher Angelina Brotherhood. The interview was conducted by Artur Malczewski of the National Bureau for Drug Prevention (NBDP), Poland. It took place in the context of the Bureau’s most recent annual conference in Warsaw, which was devoted to quality standards in prevention, with EDPQS partners from different countries sharing their experiences and insights (see previous blog entry).

The interview was published in Polish in print and on the webpage of „Świat Problemów”:

The editors of „Świat Problemów” have kindly given permission to publish the English version of the interview below.

“Translating standards into practice”

Artur MALCZEWSKI of the National Bureau for Drug Prevention talks to Angelina BROTHERHOOD of the Centre for Public Health, Liverpool John Moores University, about European Drug Prevention Quality Standards.

Artur Malczewski: What is EDPQS? Why may this kind of document and partnership be useful for prevention in Europe and European prevention specialists?

Angelina Brotherhood: EDPQS stands for European Drug Prevention Quality Standards. We – that is, the Prevention Standards Partnership (1) – produced these quality standards between 2008 and 2011 in a project co-funded by the European Union, and the standards were then published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). We developed the standards by reviewing existing standards for drug prevention activities, and by consulting with over 400 people working in drug prevention in six European countries. The idea behind the EDPQS was that they would define what ‘high quality’ means with regard to drug prevention – what we should expect from drug prevention activities. At the European level, before the EDPQS there was no definite consensus about what high quality drug prevention should look like.  So the EDPQS provide a common reference point for all European countries, based on a European consensus.

Who is the main target group for the EDPQS Manual? Can you highlight one or two main groups? 

We wrote the standards so that they would be relevant to everybody working in drug prevention. This is why we involved many different professional groups when developing the standards. From the beginning of the project, people who commission and fund drug prevention activities have been a main target audience for the EDPQS. Based on the feedback we have received since publishing the standards in 2011, it seems that two additional professional groups find the standards especially useful. The first group consists of prevention coordinators at local, regional and national levels. They use the standards to promote high quality prevention in their area of influence – for example, this would include the work of the Polish National Bureau for Drug Prevention to promote the EDPQS (2). The other group consists of service managers and programme developers. They can benefit from using the standards to identify strengths and weaknesses of their services and programmes. However, the challenge for this group is that they need guidance on how to use the standards. Practitioners can be quite sceptical about standards, but if you introduce the standards in a face-to-face meeting, discussing also how the standards apply to their concrete prevention projects, and if you address their concerns, we find that the feedback is very positive. We are currently developing materials to support different groups to apply the standards in a practical way.

Why do we now have a second phase of the project? Compared with the first phase, the partnership is much bigger, as we now have 16 institutions involved in the project.

The first phase of the project finished in 2011 with the publication of the quality standards by the EMCDDA. This was a big book with more than 200 pages. In the consultations with drug prevention professionals, it became very clear that if we didn’t undertake any follow-up activities, the book would just end up ‘on the bookshelf’ without having any impact on the quality of prevention in Europe. Instead, we were advised that we should keep promoting it, to make it widely known and used in practice. We also identified the need for user-friendly support materials which are targeted at specific professional groups, such as service managers or commissioners. This is what we’re focusing on in the second phase. This year we undertook additional consultations about how to promote use of the standards and we’re currently developing toolkits to complement the big book. The second phase also offered the opportunity to include new partner institutions who had expressed an interest in promoting quality standards but who had not yet participated in the first phase.

What do you think, what is the best approach to use standards in a practical way?

The really important thing here is to address misconceptions about how the standards should or shouldn’t be used. Many people are worried that introduction of quality standards will mean more administrative work, more bureaucracy, or that they will lose their funding. Our work with prevention practitioners suggests that the standards can be used in a much more positive way if they are seen as a practical tool to identify strengths and weaknesses of prevention activities. This is what we’re trying to promote through the support materials being developed in the second phase. This means that you can identify areas in your work that are in line with what is considered good practice at the European level. And the EDPQS also help you to identify areas for improvement in the future. Ultimately, all prevention providers want to do what is best for their target populations, and the EDPQS help them to do that.

We have just finished the EDPQS conference in Warsaw. What is your impression about it? Do you think that EDPQS will be useful in Poland?

The conference in Warsaw was a very useful event to promote the EDPQS and discuss their use in Poland. We had several speakers from the Prevention Standards Partnership who gave their views on the EDPQS. The questions from the audience suggested that there is a great interest in Poland in promoting quality in prevention, an interest towards evidence-based prevention. Several people said after the conference that they would be interested to offer training on the EDPQS in their local communes. There seems to be some insecurity about how the existing national standards and the national recommendation system in Poland can help to inform prevention practice in the country. I think the EDPQS can help to promote the national recommendation system, as they contextualise these national efforts as part of a broader European effort to promote quality in prevention. They help people to see that what is going in this country is in line with what is happening in other countries. In addition, the EDPQS are more detailed and more comprehensive than existing national resources, and so they can help Polish prevention professionals to achieve the national standards. Overall, I’m very pleased with how the conference went and I’m grateful that I was given the opportunity to present the EDPQS in person to Polish prevention colleagues.

You have been working in both phases of the projects. There are a lot of countries with different approaches to prevention. What was the biggest challenge for you?

I guess the greatest challenge has been to transfer the standards from paper to practice, which also requires making them attractive for the people working in the field. In the first phase of the project we focused primarily on establishing a consensus on high quality drug prevention in Europe. The resulting book will be useful to some professionals, but these are more likely to be highly motivated individuals who already know a lot about best practice in prevention. The book itself is not a sufficiently strong motivator to reach and produce change in those people who really need to learn more about quality in prevention. However, forcing the standards onto practitioners ‘from above’ can produce resistance and result in only superficial engagement with the standards. Our own experiences as well as the existing literature suggest that people will be much more likely to change their behaviour if they believe that the new practice is better than the old practice. If practitioners see the standards as a useful tool with clear benefits, it will mean that they want to use them and engage with them at a deeper level. But how to achieve this is something that we are still exploring. It’s an important aspect in the current phase of the project and will form the corner stone of any future EDPQS projects. The different approaches to prevention in Europe are relevant in this context, as target audiences want to see that the EDPQS are relevant in their specific context. At a more general level, however, different prevention approaches are not a barrier to standards implementation because the EDPQS aim to standardise the level of quality in prevention, they don’t dictate what approaches should be used. Also, prevention professionals from different countries frequently reported similar issues and concerns during the consultations, highlighting similarities rather than differences between European countries when it comes to raising the quality of prevention.

The Italian presidency has just started to work on promoting EQUS. What will be the role of EDPQS in EQUS?

To answer this question, it’s important to remember the differences between EQUS and EDPQS. The minimum European Quality Standards (EQUS) offer a short list of quality standards addressing different areas of drug demand reduction, not limited to prevention but also including treatment and harm reduction. Their main purpose is to offer a consensus document on minimum quality standards that could receive political support from national and international policy-makers across EU Member States. The EDPQS are different in that they focus only on prevention. Although they offer minimum standards, they also define a higher level of quality – you could say: the gold standard. They are therefore more detailed and comprehensive than EQUS. As I mentioned earlier, the EDPQS are intended as a tool for everybody working in prevention, especially practitioners. However, there is overlap between EQUS and EDPQS, as the prevention standards in EQUS were developed based on EDPQS. Therefore, we see EDPQS as a document that complements EQUS as a more in-depth resource. At the moment, there is a project ongoing to develop EQUS further to make it more relevant to the national policy-making level. We are collaborating with the colleagues at the Italian and forthcoming Latvian presidency to support this activity and to promote the use of quality standards.

Do you think that EDPQS could be used also for alcohol prevention?

Yes, definitely. The EDPQS were developed by synthesising 19 existing documents with national and international standards. Although we didn’t search specifically for quality standards in alcohol prevention, some of the included documents did explicitly target alcohol and drug prevention activities. Similarly, the people we consulted did not always work just in the illicit drugs field but typically had a broader remit in their work. I think this reflects the fact that prevention doesn’t have to address any specific substance. It may even be the case that substances are not mentioned at all. In reality, many standards within the EDPQS would be relevant for any kind of health or social intervention. This is because the EDPQS focus less on the content of interventions, and more on the structures and practices to enable high quality interventions (3). So although the topics may be different, the structures and practices required for a high quality intervention are actually very similar – for example, the importance of conducting a needs and resource assessments prior to implementing an activity. However, if we are specifically interested in alcohol prevention, then some standards, for example on substance use indicators, would need to be tailored to meet the specific requirements of alcohol prevention.

Where can interested prevention professionals find more information about the EDPQS?

We have a project website including a lot of information in English as well as selected materials translated in Polish and other languages. The National Bureau for Drug Prevention as well as the Masovian Center for Social Policy have been our project partners in Poland, and they can be contacted for further information. A quick guide to the standards in Polish will be published by these organisations at the beginning of 2015. We expect that the toolkits resulting from the second project phase will also be made available in Polish.

Thank you for the interview.


1. The Partnership currently comprises 16 organisations, led by Professor Harry Sumnall of the Centre for Public Health.

2. A Polish translation of the Standards is available at

3. In the Standards, “intervention” refers to any action or series of actions carried out in (direct) contact with the target population in order to achieve a particular outcome (e.g. to prevent or reduce drug use).


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.