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What is this research study about?

You are invited to take part in the ADAPT research study.

ADAPT explores the short and long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the experiences of Australians who use illicit drugs. We plan to use the study findings to minimise the impact and harms experienced by people who use drugs, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, and to develop tips and strategies to stay safe and healthy during this time.

You have been invited to take part because you have indicated that you have expressed interest in participating in the study, via response to our online advertisements.

Who is conducting this research?

This study is being carried out by a group of researchers and clinicians who, collectively, have decades of experience conducting research into illicit drug use, and who are committed to supporting the community of people who use drugs. Please see the Team section of this website for more information on the individuals involved.

Research Funder: This research is being funded by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, which receives funding from the Australian Government Department of Health under the Drug and Alcohol Program. 

Inclusion criteria

To be eligible to participate in this study, you will need to:

  • Be aged 18 years or older

  • Have used illicit drugs at least monthly in 2019; this includes any of the following:

-   illegal drugs such as cannabis, MDMA, methamphetamine, cocaine, LSD, ketamine, GHB, heroin

-   prescription opioids and benzodiazepines which were not prescribed to you or which were prescribed to you but 

    not taken in accordance with prescription directions

  • Have been residing in Australia since March 2020

  • Provide your email address and mobile number if you wish to take part in the follow-up surveys (see below). Participation only in the initial online survey does not require provision of email address / mobile number.  

Do I have to take part in this research study?

Participation in this research study is voluntary. If you do not wish to take part, you do not have to. If you decide to take part and later change your mind, you are free to withdraw from the study at any stage. Your decision on whether or not to take part will not affect your relationship with the organisations involved in this project or any service you receive care from.

What does participation in this research require, and are there any risks involved?

If you decide to take part in this research study, you will be asked to:

  • Read this information carefully,

  • Complete one online survey now,

  • Complete follow-up 10-minute surveys in 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 months, 2 years and 3 years, to help us understand the longer-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Note, if you do not wish to complete the follow-up surveys, you can still take part and just complete the first survey now.

  • Provide us with an email address and / or mobile phone number if you wish to take part in the follow-up surveys, so that we can reach out to you when it is time to complete the next survey. This information will be stored separately from your survey answers to ensure that your survey responses remain confidential.

You don't have to give your name, and if you give your email address and mobile number, these will not be stored with your responses. We also do not collect IP address. 

The first survey

If you decide to take part in this research study, we will ask you to complete an online survey. The survey will take approximately 20 minutes to complete and will cover a range of topics including:

  • General information about you (demographics)

  • COVID-19 experiences (e.g. testing, diagnosis)

  • Licit and illicit drug use and behaviours

  • Current market trends

  • Mental and physical health

  • Access to treatment and support services

  • Harm reduction behaviours

Follow-up surveys

Each follow-up survey will take about 10 minutes to complete, will be similar in content to the first survey, and will focus on how people’s drug use, mental health and physical health might be changing over time.

You can still take part in the first survey even if you do not wish to sign up for the follow-up surveys. 

Reimbursement and incentives

You will be given the option to be entered into a prize draw on completion of each survey. Once you have completed the survey, you will be redirected to a secure link where you can select whether you would like to enter the prize draw by ticking a checkbox and entering your email address (if you have not already done so during the consent process).

The prize draw for the first survey is a chance to win one of 20 x $100 GiftPay vouchers.

There will be prize draws for each follow-up survey that you complete, which will increase in value with each follow-up (up to $1000 for the last follow-up).

Psychological distress

You may feel that some of the questions we ask are stressful or upsetting. If you do not wish to answer a question, you may skip it and move on to the next question, or stop and exit the survey. 

If at any stage during the study you become distressed or require additional support, please call:

  • National Coronavirus Helpline: 1800 020 080

  • Lifeline: 13 11 14 (24 hours)

  • Mental Health Crisis Team: 1300 011 511

  • National Alcohol & Other Drug Hotline: 1800 250 015

  • Family Drug Support 24-hour line: 1300 368 186

  • 1800RESPECT (sexual assault and domestic / family violence helpline): 1800 737 732

You will be able to access this list of support services during and at the end of the survey.  See the Info & Resources section of this website for additional resources.

What are the possible benefits to participation? 

Although we cannot promise that you will experience any direct benefits from this study, we hope the results will provide us with an understanding of the needs and concerns of people who use illicit drugs, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. We also hope that we will be able to use this information to improve access to appropriate support services for this group in the future. 

What will happen to information about me?

By ticking the ‘I give consent’ box on the next page, you agree (consent) to us collecting and using information about you for the study.

Survey data will be collected using a secure web application for building and managing online surveys and databases. Data entered into this application are stored on UNSW Sydney’s servers, which provides increased security. Your data will be kept for a minimum of 7 years after the completion of the research.

All information we collect from you will be stored securely and treated confidentially. We will not give your information to anyone without your permission except as required by law.

Your information will only be used for publication of ‘group level’ or aggregate data. We aim to publish the results of this study in a variety of ways, including reports for people in government and for the public, as well as academic journal articles.  You will not be identified in any of these publications; any information that might identify you will be anonymised or removed.

If you sign up for the follow-up surveys

The information about you will be stored in a:

  • Re-identifiable format, where any identifiers such as your email address and mobile number will be replaced with a unique code.

  • Any potentially identifying information (such as your email or mobile number) will only be used to send you your follow-up survey and will be stored separately from your survey responses to ensure that your responses remain confidential. We do not collect IP address data.

  • Your contact information will be erased from the system upon completion of the follow-up survey, or if you choose to withdraw your consent.

If you are participating in the first survey only

The information about you will be stored in a:

  • Non-identifiable format, where your identity will be unknown.

  • If you provide your contact details to enter the prize draw, and/or to receive the project results and a copy of your consent form, your contact details will be stored separately from your survey responses. This will ensure that your responses remain confidential. We do not collect IP address data.

Data will not be used for future research purposes or shared with other researchers. 

How and when will I find out what the results of the research study are?

The research team intend to publish and/ report the results of the research. All Information will be published in a way that will not identify you.

If you would like to receive a copy of the results you can let the research team know by ticking a checkbox at the end of the consent form. If you choose this option, you will receive an e-newsletter containing an overview of the survey results after each stage of data collection. You will also be able to access these newsletters, as well as other dissemination information, from this webpage and our Facebook page.

What if I want to withdraw from the research study?

If you sign up for the follow-up surveys

If you do consent to participate, you may withdraw at any time. You can do so by completing the ‘Withdrawal of Consent Form’ which will be emailed to you. Alternatively, you can ring the research team and tell them you no longer want to participate. If you decide to leave the research study, the researchers will destroy any information that has already been collected and no additional information will be collected from you.

If you are participating in the first survey only

If you do consent to participate, you may withdraw at any time. You can do this by closing the survey. Once you have submitted your survey however, we will not be able to withdraw your responses as the survey is anonymous.

Your decision not to participate or to withdraw from the study, will not affect your relationship with the organisations involved in this project.

The information you provide is personal information for the purposes of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW).  You have the right of access to personal information held about you by the University, the right to request correction and amendment of it, and the right to make a compliant about a breach of the Information Protection Principles as contained in the PPIP Act.  Further information on how the University protects personal information is available in the UNSW Privacy Management Plan.

What should I do if I have further questions about my  involvement in the research study? 

The person you may need to contact will depend on the nature of your query. If you require further information regarding this study or if you have any problems which may be related to your involvement in the study, you can contact the following member/s of the research team:

Research team contact:

Dr Amy Peacock, Chief Investigator

​+61 (2) 9385 0282

What if I have a complaint or any concerns about the research study? 

If you have a complaint regarding any aspect of the study or the way it is being conducted, please contact the UNSW Human Ethics Coordinator:

Human Research Ethics Coordinator:

+61 (2) 9385 6222

HC Reference number: HC200264

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