Methodology

The structure of the project is as follows:

Collecting of data

The decision analysis e-health tool will collect data to contribute to a European-level knowledge base that can be used to inform future policies about the dynamics involved in individual decisions about overdose risks. To develop the tool, it is important to identify what information is available from the different European regions.

Validation of risk factors (Feb-Mar 2011)

The partners will determine which risk factors are to be included in the decision analysis model and how those factors will be prioritised. The EMCDDA report (2009) is the most systematic literature review and provides a comprehensive list of risk factors. External experts working for the University of St. Andrews centre and international experts will lead the programme to develop, validate, test, and approve the decision analytical model throughout the project period with all partners. The experts will validate the individual, situational, and organisational risk factors identified from the EMCDDA systematic review, as well as any additional risk factors identified from the subsequent review of the literature. These are inclusive of a total of 40 risk factors in the following sub-categories:

  • Drug Use
  • Circumstances Of Overdose
  • Experience of Treatment
  • Psychiatric/Physical Health Problems
  • Social Contexts
  • Circumstances
  • Consequences of Intervening
  • Treatment
  • Emergency Services

The external experts will validate the chosen risk factors and relative estimate values.

External validation (Mar-May 2011)

St. Andrews University will approach form an external validation group made up of therapeutic experts, general practitioners, and patient representatives to validate the proposed model and amend the model as required. The first external validation group meeting will perform a preliminary evaluation on the appropriateness and understanding of the proposed model. St. Andrews University will then undertake revisions to the framework document and decision tree. The final output will be a developed model to be incorporated in an appropriate user interface. The model developed will include:

  • Formalisation of decision trees/algorithms
  • Screening questions
  • Data fields
  • Supporting information

Software development (May-Jul 2011)

St Andrews University will brief the software developers (Dr. Martin Frisher, University of Keele and collaborators) with respect to the programming and coding required for the user interface. The briefing will include all aspects of the package that will be delivered including: system design, implementation, testing, and user guide. The software developer will take responsibility for designing a suitable interface and completing the prototype. St Andrews University will then approve the delivered prototype.

Software testing (Jul 2011)

A second external validation meeting will be held to validate the software prototype, and University of St. Andrews will ensure that the appropriate tests have been conducted.

Software delivery (Jul-Aug 2011)

The software sub-contractor will produce and deliver an appropriate and complete package including a user guide (PDF), CD-ROM master, and CD-insert artwork. St. Andrews University will ensure the CD-ROM master and CD insert artwork will be delivered to all partners.

Regional Activities (Mar-Sep 2011)

  • Regional partnerships
    Partnerships will be formed with local authorities and drug treatment services, as required, to establish a framework whereby researchers can access facilities where the tool will be piloted and implemented.
  • Ethical Applications
    Applications to relevant institutions will be made, as required, to conduct the research deliverable ethics approval from each local Ethical Committee
  • Contextual Analysis
    Investigation will be made of local and national policies and strategies to address the needs of individual at risk of overdose.