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Pill testing or drug checking in Australia: acceptability of service design features


Barratt, MJ and Bruno, R and Ezard, N and Ritter, A, Pill testing or drug checking in Australia: acceptability of service design features, Drug and Alcohol Review, 37, (2) pp. 226-236. ISSN 0959-5236 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2017 Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs

DOI: doi:10.1111/dar.12576


Introduction and Aims: This study aimed to determine design features of a drug-checking service that would be feasible, attractive and likely to be used by Australian festival and nightlife attendees.

Design and Methods: Web survey of 851 Australians reporting use of psychostimulants and/or hallucinogens and attendance at licensed venues past midnight and/or festivals in the past year (70% male; median age 23 years).

Results: A drug-checking service located at festivals or clubs would be used by 94%; a fixed-site service external to such events by 85%. Most (80%) were willing to wait an hour for their result. Almost all (94%) would not use a service if there was a possibility of arrest, and a majority (64%) would not use a service that did not provide individual feedback of results. Drug-checking results were only slightly more attractive if they provided comprehensive quantitative results compared with qualitative results of key ingredients. Most (93%) were willing to pay up to $5, and 68% up to $10, per test. One-third (33%) reported willingness to donate a whole dose for testing: they were more likely to be male, younger, less experienced, use drugs more frequently and attend venues/festivals less frequently.

Discussion and Conclusions: In this sample, festival- or club-based drug-checking services with low wait times and low cost appear broadly attractive under conditions of legal amnesty and individualised feedback. Quantitative analysis of ecstasy pills requiring surrender of a whole pill may appeal to a minority in Australia where pills are more expensive than elsewhere.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:pill checking, harm reduction, drug users, designer drugs, MDMA, hallucinogens
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Other psychology
Research Field:Other psychology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Bruno, R (Associate Professor Raimondo Bruno)
ID Code:120194
Year Published:2018 (online first 2017)
Web of Science® Times Cited:37
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2017-08-15
Last Modified:2022-06-29

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