Scientific communities in addiction research: attributes and attitudes, a multi-methods approach



Attitude predicts action. This general principle also applies to scientists. In the field of addiction research, surveys covering understandings of addiction are available for national populations, treatment providers, family members and patients. Thus far, scientists have not been the subjects of research, despite their fundamental role in forming research foci and assessing evidence as well as their influence over ethical issues. As part of the ERA-NET Neuron funded A-BRAIN project (Addiction in the brain: ethically sound implementation in governance) we survey and describe the addiction researcher community and explore their understanding of addiction in general and their assessment of the role and impact of brain-based explanations in particular.


Different sampling techniques (purposeful sampling, expert advice, snowball sampling) were combined to identify the sample. Participants were interviewed via LimeSurvey. In order to identify the relevant themes for the questionnaire development, a systematic literature search was conducted. Quantitative, qualitative and network analytical methods were applied to analyse the data.


An initial sample of 1485 participants was compiled. Initial descriptions of the sampling methods and the sample itself are presented. The following three thematic areas were identified as relevant for the survey: (a) questions on the identification of addiction models or the confirmation of existing models, (b) questions on the general acceptance of brain-based explanations as well as (c) their ethical implications. Analytical approaches and first results are presented.


Research constitutes the basis for evidence-based treatment and prevention, for political action, as well as for social attitudes. It is therefore important to study how scientists understand and shape their field of expertise and how this corresponds to the understanding of other stakeholders involved.


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