2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Epidemiology is a core discipline generating evidence to inform and drive drug policy. In this essay, we speculate on what the future of drug epidemiology might become. We highlight for attention two areas shaping the future of drug epidemiology: nesting epidemiology within a 'syndemic' and 'relational' approach; and innovating in relation to causal inference in the face of complexity. We argue that shifts towards a more relational approach emphasise contingency, including in relation to how drugs might constitute benefit or harm. This leads us to speculate on a 'positive epidemiology'; one that is configured not merely in relation to harm but also in relation to the potential benefits of drugs in relation to well-being. In responding to the complex challenges of delineating contingent causalities, we emphasise the potential of carefully conducted observational study designs that go beyond statistical associations to test causal inference. We acknowledge that each of these developments we describe - a shift towards more relational approaches which emphasise contingent causation, and methodological innovations in relation to establishing causal inference - can be at odds with the other in how they imagine drug epidemiology futures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103378
Pages (from-to)103378
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Volume94
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
SL and MH acknowledge consultancy support from the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction linked a special session on ?addiction futures? as part of the Lisbon Addictions 2019 conference. MH acknowledges support from NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Evaluation of Interventions (HPRU EI). TR acknowledges support from the UNSW SHARP scheme, and from the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction related to this work. SL is supported by a Fonds de recherche du Qu?bec ? Sant? Junior 2 Award (295659).

Funding Information:
SL and MH acknowledge consultancy support from the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction linked a special session on “addiction futures” as part of the Lisbon Addictions 2019 conference. MH acknowledges support from NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Evaluation of Interventions (HPRU EI). TR acknowledges support from the UNSW SHARP scheme, and from the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction related to this work. SL is supported by a Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé Junior 2 Award (295659).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

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