Review of Methodologies Used in Drug And Drug Users Research

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Review of Methodologies Used in Drug And Drug Users Research

Category: Dissertation methodology

Subcategory: Environment

Level: Masters

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

For a long time, substance abuse research studies focused on obtaining and evaluating quantitative data. It stayed that way until scholars realized that drug abuse experiences subjective and personal enough to warrant study. For more than three decades now, steps have been made to incorporate qualitative collection and analysis tools into substance abuse research for mixed methods approaches and to conduct purely thematic and qualitative investigations into the field. A review of existing literature reveals the flexible nature of the available methodologies, how researchers can doctor them to fit into specific contexts, and the new approaches scholars are experimenting with to simplify the processes and improve the validity and reliability of collected results. The style that appears to offer the greatest flexibility for adaptability is the mixed methods approach which combines qualitative and quantitative tools for data collection or information analysis, or both. The recommendation is that the upcoming study should take advantage of the opportunities for customization offered by the approach and use it for gathering and evaluating data.
Keywords: Qualitative, Quantitative, Mixed Methods, Methodology, and Semi-Structured Interviews, research, and drug abuse

Review of Methodologies Used in Drug And Drug Users Research
The rate of drug abuse is rising while the age of first use decreases among the youth despite the fact that the efforts society makes to lower the number of people adopting the habit and increase those seeking treatment and overcoming the vice. It has created the desire to discover the forces behind these trends and the methods that can be used to hinder such progress. The research study would be, therefore, important in studying the environmental, societal, and personal factors that drive, support, and determine the rate of recovery for drug abuse and addiction. In line with this, this paper reviews the relevant methodologies used in the past research studies on drug and drug users and subsequently informs on the best research methodology to adopt in a forthcoming dissertation.
Review of relevant Research Methodologies
Research by Geramian et al. (2014)
Geramian et al. (2014) conducted a quantitative cross-sectional study, collecting results through researcher-made questionnaires meant to determine the state of drug abuse students of among high school in Isfahan Province, Iran. The questionnaire gathered data on the age, and hometown of the participants, and routes of drug abuse subject to gender and urbanization, regular locations and times of abuse, key causes of misuse, the average age of abusers and of initial abuse, key drug abuse causes, and the major motivation for first use.
The research aimed to find out the factors that raise or lower the likelihood of drug abuse and the reason why the age of first abuse decreases over time among high school goers. The sample size was determined as a percentage of the general population selected using multi-stage random sampling to improve generalization. The sample was designed to match the population characteristics in each city and the researcher selected and trained skilled examiners so they could run unified data collection processes and properly interview participants. The reliability of questionnaires was assessed using Cronbach’s alpha coefficient, and their validity ascertained using suggestions made by independent teams of field experts and potential participants. The confidentiality of the results was maintained by keeping respondents anonymous, and the study successfully yielded the expected results.
Research by Lankenau et al. (2011)
The study explores patterns of initiation for prescription drug misuse among youths (16 to 25 years). Though it used qualitative collection tools, mixed methods analyzed the descriptive data gathered using semi-structured interviews, and guided by an ethno-epidemiological style. Participants came from New York and Los Angeles and had to have abused prescription drugs three times in the immediate three months to be selected. The percentages and frequencies revealed patterns of use as narrative accounts contextualized the individual information provided. The National Development and Research Institutes Inc. and the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles approved the research procedures which included screening the target participants for eligibility and rewarding the screened individuals with $3 gift cards. A Questionnaire Development Software (QDS) programmed the required interviews for eligibility.
A Community Assessment Process (CAP) recorded the location of young injection drug users (IDUs) and local information on prescription drug misuse, and then ethnographers used chain referral sampling and targeted sampling to select final respondents. The participants received incentives for outreach information and $25. The content of the interview guide was informed by themes that appeared during the CAP, previous studies, and current measures. The SPSS database was used to analyze quantitative data to provide summaries of key features, and qualitative data went through Atlas.ti where data was coded to isolate essential themes. Collected data described the contexts for misuse, the implications of the habit, and the patterns of use.
Research by Macneela & Bredin (2010)
The study sought to explore the beliefs and exposure to harm related to binge drinking among young women in a university in Ireland. Data collection was done using mixed method approaches through semi-structured focus group and individual interviews. Information was then evaluated using thematic analysis. Participants selected through purposive sampling as contacts of one of the authors, filled short questionnaires after the interviews. All respondents belonged to existing friendship networks, and these focus groups gave details on shared group dynamics.
Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed using pseudonyms to maintain anonymity, and open coding was used in the thematic analysis to recognize recurrent patterns. The second part of the procedure involved eliciting participant reactions to vignettes containing data on values and beliefs related to problem and binge drinking. The differences between group and individual beliefs and behavior were recorded, with regards to predetermined interview topics after receiving ethical approval from the university.
Research by Cooper (2013)
Cooper (2013) used a purposive sample of adults aged 20 to 60 years to seek experiences of people abusing over the counter (OTC) medicines through qualitative in-depth telephone semi-structured interviews. The sample was recruited through internet support groups, but this method provided a limitation because only individuals with internet access took part. The sampling procedure, however, enabled the researcher to include people with different reasons for initial use, a medicine used, gender, and age. The interviews were recorded and then anonymously transcribed before being analyzed using open and axial coding. Broad chronological themes were identified at the end of the process, and it became clear how the respondents viewed themselves compared to other addicts.
Research by Zuccato et al. (2008)
These researchers apply a different scientific approach in the study of substance abuse, even though they still utilize quantitative methods in the collection and analysis of data. Gathering samples from major sewage treatment plants in various cities across Europe, and examined them for target drug residues. The key advantage of the process is that it is less time consuming, does not infringe on the privacy of participants, has a high rate of accuracy in the results by eliminating subjective bias, and requires fewer experts to handle samples.
The traces of residues found from this process provided information that was in line with the prevalence estimates recorded annually for every nation involved in the research. Although there was a likelihood that collected samples would include drug traces that come from non-residents, the data gave numbers recorded in real time, and this is a good way to monitor drug abuse as a seasonal habit and find out whether figures change during famous holidays or not. Such research offers complimentary facts to the real-time qualitative data that researchers can apply with advanced tools today. Quantities extracted from every city were of equal measure, and the methods used to extract residues remained the same to ensure optimal comparisons of derived statistics.
Recommended Methodology in a future Drug and Substance Abuse Research
Mixed methods analysis provides the greatest possibility in collecting, analyzing, and also informing the interpretation of data. When participant first-hand accounts of their experiences support statistics involving the age, frequency of use, causes of misuse, and the prevalence of drug abuse habits, personal reasons driving the habits, reasons for continuation, and the effect of the environment on promoting or deterring drug abuse, the study becomes extremely effective in describing popular trends. Cooper notes that for a long time, qualitative methods of analysis were neglected in the field of substance abuse, and this study can provide more details on the advantageous results that can be uncovered by utilizing mixed methods.
While quantitative data enables the researcher to compare current findings with past records, qualitative data might be able to provide much-needed information for the change of data. However, to achieve this comparability, this research must learn from previous researchers and formulate data collection tools like questionnaires for individual information and semi-structured interviews for group data so that the gathered responses take the direction of studies that came before. Conclusions derived from the study will, therefore, be a continuation of the work that researchers began previously (Geramian et al., 2014). The options available on how a researcher can mix methods are almost limitless, and they can be customized to meet the objectives of every study.
Mixed method systems take advantage of the benefits offered by qualitative and quantitative approaches so that investigators can take a statistical view and still consider the differences in opinion, context, and it allows scholars to tackle a problem from a broad point of view and amass detailed information by asking in-depth questions. The exclusive use of qualitative methods has dominated the substance abuse research field during the new millennium, and they offer numerous complimentary information to the statistics available from past quantitative studies. Using mixed methods in research that seeks to find out why drug abuse cases are increasing and how the society can deal with the menace is the best course. Quantitative data will certify whether abuse incidents are truly increasing and they are affecting the youth more than any other demographic. Qualitative information will show what people think of the epidemic and what ought to be done about it.
Cooper, R. J. (2013). ‘I can’t be an addict. I am.’Over-the-counter medicine abuse: A qualitative study. BMJ Open, 3(6), e002913.
Geramian, N., Gharaat, L., Taheri, S. A., Mohebpour, F., Nahvizadeh, M., Farajzadegan, Z., & Heidari, K. (2014). Development of a questionnaire to assess drug abuse among high school students of Isfahan province, Iran: An action research. International Journal of Preventive Medicine, 5 (Suppl 2), S146.
Lankenau, S. E., Teti, M., Silva, K., Bloom, J. J., Harocopos, A., & Treese, M. (2012). Initiation into prescription opioid misuse among young injection drug users. International Journal of Drug Policy, 23(1), 37-44.
MacNeela, P., & Bredin, O. (2011). Keeping your balance: Freedom and regulation in female university students’ drinking practices. Journal of Health Psychology, 16(2), 284-293.
Zuccato, E., Chiabrando, C., Castiglioni, S., Bagnati, R., & Fanelli, R. (2008). Estimating community drug abuse by wastewater analysis. Environmental Health Perspectives, 116(8), 1027.

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