Last Thursday 19th January, EBC was at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, presenting the final outcomes of the STOA (Science and Technology Options Assessment) study: Technological Innovation strategies in substance use disorders. The study’s aim was to provide insights into Internet-based drug treatment interventions developed within the EU.

As part of the study, EBC led a survey and performed semi-structured interviews to collect qualitative data from a selected group of experts in the addiction field at the EU-level to try and answer the following questions:

  • The extent to which these technologies are used among health professionals in the field of addiction
  • The main factors hampering their implementation
  • The most effective strategies to promote their use in the treatment of substance use disorders

Three hundred and fifty participants recruited with an exhaustive sampling across the main EU scientific and professional associations across EU member states. The great majority of experts recruited operate in the public sector and have significant professional experience in the field of addiction, strengthening the validity of their contributions.

The results of the study highlighted some key points, a few mentioned here:

  • Participants believe that ICT-based interventions hold the promise of providing service -to more people, -to people in remote areas, and -to people with limitations that prevent them from participating fully in the healthcare services as they are currently structured
  • One major barrier of implementing ICT-based interventions involved the lack of digital literacy of health care professionals.

Some solutions presented included:

  • A key to widespread adoption of ICT solutions is the promotion of these technologies among healthcare professionals and patients alongside with the improvement of education and training.
  • In addition, a transformation of the regulatory and funding environment to support the integration of ICT-based interventions in the current health care services is required.

The study concluded that, at present, Technology-based interventions (TBIs) can considered still immature: it could be argued that they are not sufficiently advanced. However, there is great potential for TBIs to be used as a tool for prevention, education and information and the likelihood of their success is significantly increased by the application of parallel public health policy interventions.

Presenting the results of the study were:

Gianluca Quaglio, MD, Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA),European Parliamentary Research Service, European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium

Giuseppe Carra,MD, MSc, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, University of Milano BicoccaI,  Research Associate, Division of Psychiatry. University College of London-UK

The panel was chaired by Paul Rübig.

The entire presentation and discussion can be found via live webstream here.