Translating and transferring drug prevention interventions across contexts: Learning from the EPPIC project :‘Exchanging Prevention practices on Polydrug use among youth in Criminal justice systems’ (CJS)
EPPIC (Exchanging Prevention practices on Polydrug use among youth in Criminal justice systems) is funded by the 3rd EU Health Programme 2014-2020 (CHAFEA). Partner countries are Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Poland, UK. EPPIC aims to gather knowledge, exchange practice and identify transferable interventions to prevent illicit drug use and the development of polydrug use amongst young people (15-24) in the CJS. Interventions found useful in one context are often transferred into other settings, often without due consideration of relevance, acceptability and practical application issues which might impede successful transfer. Examination of transfer issues in the addictions field is limited, with few guidelines to assist decision making. The literature on policy transfer and translation highlights: issues of knowledge transfer, including the role of international actors, non-state actors and transnational networks in policy and practice transfer: the shift from a policy/practice transfer perspective to translation models of policy/practice that stress the complexity of the contexts within which transfer/translation takes place: and provides a theoretical framework for examining within and cross country transfer/ translation of best practice interventions.
A qualitative approach was used to explore substance use and experiences of prevention interventions, from the perspective of young people and professionals. Interviews, focus groups and workshops with practitioners and young people were conducted and documentary analysis undertaken. Common core questions, coding and analysis frameworks were used to facilitate comparative analyses and to identify across countries: drug interventions for young people in touch with CJS; interventions that had been transferred; factors that facilitated or impeded transfer.
Of the sixty interventions identified across partner countries less than half were evaluated. Two interventions had been transferred, both underwent translation: 'FreD goes net' (aimed at first time offenders) developed in Germany was translated to several European countries (Wirth & Rometsch, 2010); CANDIS (Hoch et al, 2014) (aimed at cannabis use cessation or reduction) was translated from Germany to Poland. Exchange of best practice was valued by informants but simple transfer was not seen as viable. Participants argued that if interventions were to succeed they required adaptation to fit different and often complex contexts When considering dissemination of evidence-based interventions, there is a tension between ensuring fidelity and facilitating flexibility. This is discussed in the light of theoretical understanding of how intervention diffusion takes place.
There has been limited transfer of drug prevention interventions for young people in touch with CJS from one context to another. Successful transfer appears to be based on adaptation or translation to accommodate differences between contexts.
Key principles to consider when contemplating transfer include cultural factors, setting, legal frameworks and resources.