Evidence-based practice or imperfect seduction? Developing capacity to respond effectively to drug-related problems


Steve J. Allsop PhD, Professor and Director, Clare F. Stevens BSc(Hons), Research Assistant. Director Steve J. Allsop, National Drug Research Institute, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia. Tel: +(08)9266 1600; Fax: +(08)9266 1611; E-mail: s.allsop@curtin.edu.au


Issues. The last two or three decades have seen some valuable investment in workforce development. However, significant challenges remain in developing effective practice across various systems. Despite the relevance alcohol, tobacco and other drug use have for a range of staff across diverse organisations, adoption of cross-sector and collaborative effective practice is not widespread. The most common response involves a rather singular focus on strategies that develop practitioner knowledge and skills, with much less consideration given to the complex nature of the work environment and the belief systems of people who work in these environments. Approach. This paper explores the barriers to and facilitators of effective practice, extending beyond the common focus on education and training initiatives. A model of capacity building is explored as a template to inform workforce and organisational development strategies. Key Findings. Numerous barriers, outside education and training, must be considered in order to develop and maintain effective practice across various systems of prevention and treatment. The paper culminates with recommendations on how to overcome such challenges. Implications. Workforce and organisational development must extend beyond education and training initiatives. Along with a focus on organisational and system factors, we must also attend to the marginalisation of people affected by drug use and associated pejorative attitudes. Conclusion. Developing effective practice in the drug field involves changing the structures, and expected outcomes of these structures, in which people work, not just encouraging a few to use new ways of working in spite of the system.[Allsop SJ, Stevens CF. Evidence-based practice or imperfect seduction? Developing capacity to respond effectively to drug-related problems. Drug Alcohol Rev 2009;28:541–549]