by Dr Nathan Critchlow (University of Stirling)

The first session in room two kicked off with three excellent presentations on a key method in addiction sciences – systematic reviews. This session brought together PhD students from a variety of addiction topics, including gambling, parental substance misuse, and alcohol.


This session was a global affair, and began with Thomas Swanton who braved the time difference to join us from the University of Sydney in Australia! Thomas’s presentation covered his on-going research examining how payment method influences gambling. This is an important and current topic given societal shifts from typically paying with physical cash to online payments and digital wallets. The preliminary findings suggest that consumers are less aware of their spending and seemingly willing to spend more when paying with cashless methods compared with physical currency. The presentation concluded with some important implications for harm minimisation, including requiring digital payment systems on gambling platforms to have in-built harm minimisation functions.


Parental drug use

The second presentation was by Cassey Muir from Newcastle University. Cassey’s presentation covered a qualitative systematic review exploring the lived experiences, impacts, and coping strategies of young people whose parents use substances. This is an important topic, and the presentation highlighted the containment harms that addictive behaviours have others. Cassey’s review covered 46 papers from 20 different countries, and highlighted three main themes: (1) living with the uncontrollable; (2) adapting and learning; and (3) resistance, controlling the uncontrollable. The research is ongoing, but the findings will inform future development of interventions that build social and emotional resilience among young people whose parents use substances.

(slides not available)


The alcohol harm paradox

In our final presentation, delegates heard from Jennifer Boyd from the University of Sheffield. This presentation focused on possible explanations and causes for the ‘alcohol harm paradox’, which posits that those from lower socioeconomic positions experience greater alcohol related harms, despite consuming less alcohol. The findings from the 68 papers reviewed highlighted several hypothetical explanations for this paradox, covering 16 domains that overlap and interact with each other (e.g. individual, lifestyle, contextual, disadvantage). The presentation concluded by highlighting implications for policy and future research, for example a lack of explicit theory and need for alternative methods to capture the complexity of these causes (e.g. computer simulations). You can read more about Jennifer’s research in the published protocol of this review here.


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