Cross Party Working Group on New Psychoactive Substances

A report summarising the work of the New Psychoactive Substances (NPS)Cross Party Working Group and recommendations for further action.

6. Research

6.1 The CPWG heard evidence on the NPS research the Scottish Government has commissioned in order to progress understanding of the ways in which vulnerable groups make choices about whether to use NPS, and manage harms which may emerge as a result of NPS use. This work will help to inform Scottish Government policy making in this field.

Understanding the Prevalence, Motivations and Harms of NPS use in Scotland

6.2 Katy MacLeod from the SDF, and Dr Lucy Pickering, from the University of Glasgow, were commissioned by the Scottish Government to carry out mixed methods research on NPS use amongst vulnerable groups in Scotland.

6.3 In order to address the gaps identified by the Scottish Government, the study asks the following questions:

  • What is the prevalence of use of different categories of NPS amongst target populations in Scotland?
  • What are the stated motivations for experimenting with and continued use of NPS among target populations in Scotland?
  • How are the harms associated with the use of NPS understood by those who use them and those who provide specialist services to target populations in Scotland?

6.4 Homeless people, injecting drug users, mental health services, men who have sex with men and 'at risk' young people are the focus for this study.

6.5 The first part of the study will identify harms and motivations for NPS use among the five target groups using interviews and focus groups. The second stage will capture data on NPS use, harms and motivations using a survey.

6.6 The study will include 32 semi-structured one to one interviews and 4 focus groups with front line staff along with surveys with the target populations and front line staff working with NPS users. A peer research model, which has been used successfully in previous projects, aims to encourage greater involvement from hard to engage populations.

Key Observations and Conclusions

6.7 The study focuses on vulnerable groups as NPS use amongst these groups has been identified as a gap in knowledge[18].

6.8 The research evidence should inform the next steps of interventions along with wider dissemination of the findings. Appropriate action should be taken to address the issues identified in the research and the evidence should be used to inform next steps.

6.9 The study concludes in June 2016 and members looked forward to the conclusions. The CPWG welcomed further updates.


Email: Vicky Carmichael

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