Dr Briony Larance. Photo by Paul Jones.

Study to understand use of health services by ice users wins funding grant

By Benjamin Long

A project to better understand the use of health services among people who use methamphetamine in the Illawarra has received a welcome funding boost.

The project has been awarded a $66,190 seed-funding grant from the National Centre for Clinical Research on Emerging Drugs (NCCRED). NCCRED was funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health to support the provision of clinical treatment interventions to people experiencing problems related to their use of methamphetamine and other emerging drugs of concern.

The study will examine the use of health services and outcomes of Illawarra Shoalhaven residents who use methamphetamine and potential points of intervention like hospital emergency departments. It will use complex data analytics, and clinician and consumer consultation to determine priorities for intervention.

The research partnership, led by Dr Briony Larance at the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) School of Psychology, includes Associate Professor Peter Kelly and Dr Laura Robinson from UOW’s School of Psychology and the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI); Dr Luise Lago from UOW’s Centre for Health Research Illawarra Shoalhaven Population (CHRISP) and Australian Health Services Research Institute (AHSRI); Dr Julia Lappin from the University of NSW; and Sarah Adams and David Reid from the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISHLD).

“The systems for understanding when and where people who use methamphetamine are seeking help have historically been underdeveloped,” Dr Larance said.

“We really hope the lessons we learn in the Illawarra will help communities around the country,” said Dr Larance.

“This study will provide valuable insight into the treatment pathways used by methamphetamine users,” said David Reid, Director of the Illawarra Drug and Alcohol Service.

Dr Briony Larance is Senior Research Fellow and Vice-Chancellor’s postdoctoral fellow at UOW, and a Conjoint Senior Research Fellow at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW.

Methamphetamine use in Australia

  • In the last decade there has been a three-fold increase in regular and dependent methamphetamine use in Australia.
  • There has been a shift towards use of the more potent crystalline form of methamphetamine (‘ice’).
  • Calls to amphetamine related helpline centres, drug treatment episodes and related hospital admissions have increased steeply since 2010.
  • Methamphetamine dependence is estimated to cost Australia around $5 billion per year.

About the study

Increasing the capacity of a regional Local Health District to respond to methamphetamine-related harm: Developing an integrated model of care informed by linked data, and consumer and clinician views: B. Larance, P. Kelly, L. Lago, J. Lappin, L. Robinson, S. Adams, D. Reid ($66,190, National Centre for Clinical Research on Emerging Drugs, Commonwealth Department of Health).

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