Novel psychoactive substances - educating the educators and teaching of undergraduate healthcare professionals

First published: 30 March 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

Mrs Christine Goodair

Programmes Manager ( Substance Misuse) Population Health Research Institute, St George’s, University of London

Christine is based in the Population Health Research Institute at St George’s, University of London working on a range of substance misuse projects. Her current programmes of work include; Substance Misuse in the Undergraduate Medical Curriculum; EU Madness, a project monitoring the health harms of novel psychoactive substances; and the National Programme on Drug Related Deaths. Additionally she facilitates Case Based Learning groups for undergraduate medical students, and has run World Health Organisation Fellowship Programmes on Tobacco Cessation and has designed and delivered training in Alcohol Brief Interventions for health care staff. Christine writes a regular column for the journal Drugs and Alcohol Today on drug, alcohol and tobacco resources, and tweets regularly on the SSA website.

Aims: ’EU-MADNESS’( EUropean-wide, Monitoring, Analysis and knowledge Dissemination on Novel/Emerging pSychoactiveS) is a European funded collaborative project whose key objective is to develop integrated monitoring and profiling of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS ’legal highs’) in Europe in order to prevent health harms and provide educational resources for healthcare professionals.

A brief overview of the project will be given describing its workstreams. A major element of this work has been surveys of students and medical educators gathering data about the need to educate future healthcare professionals about substance misuse, and in particular Novel Psychoactive Substances (legal highs).

Design: Surveys – one was undertaken as a student project, the other was among medical educators.

Setting: Universities, teaching medicine, nursing, pharmacy and allied healthcare courses in UK & Europe

Participants: Medical undergraduates and other students. Academic Leads, and course directors UK and Europe from Pharmacy, Nursing, Physician Associates, Paramedics.

Findings and conclusions
Knowledge generated by this project is being used to develop freely available teaching resources for undergraduate/postgraduate training in medicine, physician associates, pharmacology, pharmacy, psychology, psychiatry, paramedics, nursing and social work.

Results indicate that

– Students want more education on legal highs and illicit drugs
– Students want to be made more aware of harms in general, and how to treat
– Very little is taught on NPS legal highs in medical curricula

– Educators want teaching resources on legal highs

– Educators have difficulty in changing curriculum


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Mrs Christine Goodair