The European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD) is about to launch its 2011 questionnaire.
The study, led from Sweden, will carry out its fifth survey this year. Forty countries will take part, including small nations such as Iceland, Faroe Islands, Malta, Cyprus and the Isle of Man.
ESPAD began in 1995 with an assessment of national samples of 15 and 16 year old school students in 26 European countries. The survey was repeated in 1999 with 30 countries taking part. The results revealed major national variations in teenage drinking patterns, levels of alcohol-related problems, illicit drug use and tobacco smoking.
ESPAD was conducted for the third time in 2003 – the first time the Isle of Man took part – and most recently in 2007.
Stuart Dobson, Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Education and Children confirms: ‘ESPAD Isle of Man operates under the partnership of three government departments and work is overseen by the Isle of Man ESPAD Steering Committee. Letters with details about this year’s survey will soon be sent out from the Department of Education and Children to all parents of those invited to take part, that is all 15-16 year olds in the Island’s schools.
‘The 2011 survey must end before the Easter holidays. National reports will be made available by the end of 2011, followed by the publication of the international report by mid-2012.’
Mr Dobson added: ‘ESPAD has assisted us in improving education programme curricula and has allowed the government and third sector to prioritise the work in the area of lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking alcohol and the use of illicit drugs. A fourth new area will be looked into for the first time and that is the impact of the internet use in this age group. There is a lot of work around intervention of a preventative kind and to establish the right educational programme in the schools and community.’
Home Affairs Department Member Bill Malarkey MHK said: ‘The ESPAD study is important to Government as it helps us plan for the future especially during these challenging financial times. Pupils should be encouraged to participate and to give honest answers as it is important we get accurate statistics. We will then understand what happens and as a result ensure that resources are distributed equally across the population and the communities in the Isle of Man.
‘The Isle of Man ESPAD works with a dedicated multi-disciplinary team on the ground. The Principal Investigator ensures that each member of the team carries out the tasks in the right order, within the current research governance, that means with the correct application of Data Protection and ethical laws right across participating departments and the schools.’
Other countries which have a long participating history in ESPAD are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.