Drug harms in the UK: a multicriteria decision analysis.

Proper assessment of the harms caused by the misuse of drugs can inform policy makers in health, pol

  1. Pjotr777
    Study Author(s):
    Prof David J Nutt, FMedSci Leslie A King, PhD Lawrence D Phillips, PhD on behalf of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs
    Journal Name:
    The Lancet Volume 376, ISSUE 9752, P1558-1565, November 06, 2010
    Publication Date:
    November 01, 2010
    PMID:
    21036393
    Summary

    Background
    Proper assessment of the harms caused by the misuse of drugs can inform policy makers in health, policing, and social care. We aimed to apply multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA) modelling to a range of drug harms in the UK.

    Methods
    Members of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, including two invited specialists, met in a 1-day interactive workshop to score 20 drugs on 16 criteria: nine related to the harms that a drug produces in the individual and seven to the harms to others. Drugs were scored out of 100 points, and the criteria were weighted to indicate their relative importance.

    Findings
    MCDA modelling showed that heroin, crack cocaine, and metamfetamine were the most harmful drugs to individuals (part scores 34, 37, and 32, respectively), whereas alcohol, heroin, and crack cocaine were the most harmful to others (46, 21, and 17, respectively). Overall, alcohol was the most harmful drug (overall harm score 72), with heroin (55) and crack cocaine (54) in second and third places

    Interpretation
    These findings lend support to previous work assessing drug harms, and show how the improved scoring and weighting approach of MCDA increases the differentiation between the most and least harmful drugs. However, the findings correlate poorly with present UK drug classification, which is not based simply on considerations of harm.

    Funding
    Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (UK).


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