Phase II of the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards Project

Project name: Promoting Excellence in Drug Prevention in the EU

Why was this project undertaken?

The European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS) initiative seeks to support the development of high quality prevention activities in the field of substance use.

Phase I of the EDPQS project (2008-2010) resulted in a substantial amount of data and information with significant potential for supporting the development and implementation of high quality prevention practice. However, the challenge of making the Standards accessible, relevant, and applied by those working in prevention at the policy and practice level remained.

With this focus in mind, Phase II of the project took place between 2013-2015 in order to develop activities, including the provision of supporting materials for a wide range of drug professionals. Phase II of the project was again led by Prof Harry Sumnall of the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University, UK, with an extended Partnership comprising 15 partner organisations within Europe.

Click here to view more information about the EDPQS and the Phase I project

Figure 1: Drug prevention project cycleThe EDPQS specify the quality standards that should be applied to prevention activities in the substance use field. The Standards aim to help policy-makers and practitioners working in the field of substance use to undertake their work based on sound scientific evidence and expert consensus about what is likely to be effective. According to the Standards, drug prevention activities should aim to be relevant to policy and target populations, ethical, evidence-based, able to provide evidence to inform future activities, (cost-)effective, feasible and sustainable. To find out more about the EDPQS, please view the introduction to the Standards.

The quality standards were identified in Phase I of the EDPQS project by consulting a range of national and international sources and through undertaking research within the prevention field. The project was undertaken by the Prevention Standards Partnership, a multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral collaboration of seven organisations across Europe, led by Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom. The resulting Standards represent a major contribution to the European and International prevention field. The work and findings of this project phase were documented in the manual European Drug Prevention Quality Standards, published by the European Drug Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) in 2011.  To find out more about the EDPQS Phase I project, please view the Phase I project page.

Objectives and activities during Phase II


The objective of Phase II was to develop practical tools and training which would facilitate the integration and implementation of the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards, and also to strengthen a consensus within Europe on what ‘high quality drug prevention’ is.

The target audience included all people working in the drug prevention community, particularly the prevention providers, practitioners and policy-makers.

Click here to view the specific project objectives

The specific objectives of the Prevention Standards Partnership in Phase II were:

  1. To demonstrate how quality standards in drug prevention can be achieved and evidenced in practice, taking into account differences in prevention culture, structure, policy and practice between settings and countries;
  2. To present the Standards in a user-friendly way through the production of a number of toolkits targeted at different professional audiences and customisable according to different needs;
  3. To support the development of professional attitudes and skills relating to evidence-based prevention among the prevention workforce, thus increasing consensus and acceptability of quality standards (including the EQUS drug demand reduction standards) and evidence-based approaches to prevention;
  4. To establish the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards as a recognisable ‘brand’ among the European drug prevention workforce and promote their use internationally;
  5. To identify ways to sustain the use of the Prevention Standards through incorporation into established training programmes, university courses, and investigation of follow-on sources of funding.


To achieve this objective, project partners undertook a number of activities, organised in two Work Streams (click on the image to enlarge it). Relevant information from other centres of expertise and other work in the area of quality standards at the national and international levels also informed these activities.

Work Stream 1: Application of Quality Standards (April 2013 –Overview of project activities December 2013)

  • Case studies of particular prevention work in six EU countries
  • Mapping and review of existing indicators and quality assurance models in drug prevention and health promotion
  • Development of bespoke indicators which would allow to work towards and demonstrate achievement of the European drug prevention quality standards

Work Stream 2: Development of toolkits (November 2013 – February 2015)

  • Mapping and review of existing toolkits in drug prevention and health promotion
  • Needs assessment to identify relevant target audiences for toolkits
  • Development of toolkits and training materials
  • Pilot training workshops with practitioners, commissioners, University students and other prevention professionals

EDPQS Toolkits developed during Phase II

The EDPQS Phase II project resulted in a range of materials that can provide significant support to all those working in the prevention field, including:

  • A brief summary to introduce the EDPQS on two pages
  • EDPQS Toolkit 1 to support decision-makers and funders with selecting quality drug prevention initiatives for funding or other forms of support
  • EDPQS Toolkit 2 to support service managers, programme developers and front-line practitioners with reviewing and developing the quality of prevention activities
  • EDPQS Toolkit 3 to support professional training events on the use and implementation of quality standards
  • EDPQS Toolkit 4 to support the translation, adaptation and strategic promotion of quality standards in different geographical and professional contexts
  • EDPQS Position Paper to give more background on the the concepts of “drug prevention” and “quality” as they informed the development of EDPQS
  • EDPQS Theory of Change to explain and illustrate how the introduction of quality standards can lead to better outcomes for target populations

Outputs of Phase II (including translations) are published on the resources page as they become available.

The EDPQS Toolkits are intended as practical materials to help target audiences apply the Standards in their work, whereas the Position Paper and Theory of Change help target audiences to better understand specific issues related to quality standards in prevention.

The project should therefore help prevention professionals develop their work in accordance with sound principles and evidence, and – as Phase I – contribute to promoting health and well-being in European populations.

Beyond Phase II?

A Phase III of the EDPQS project is currently under discussion (see for example this blog entry). Any announcements will be added to the news section. If you are interested to participate in an EDPQS Phase III, please contact us.


The European Drug Prevention Quality Standards project started with Phase I in 2008. Phase II commenced in April 2013 and formally ended in March 2015, with publication of the toolkits in summer/autumn 2015. Please visit the news section for further project updates.


EUThis project received financial support from the Drug Prevention and Information Programme (DPIP) of the European Union.


For more information about the project, please contact the Partnership.