Tobacco, excessive alcohol use, problematic illicit drug use and problem gambling are ‘dangerous consumptions’ that have a significant negative emotional and financial impact on individuals, their families/whanau and the community. Many individuals engage in more than one type of dangerous consumption. The Addiction Research theme investigates innovative, but practical, solutions to reducing these health risks, particularly focusing on priority population groups. Studies test the effectiveness of novel delivery systems, variations in the delivery of standard treatments, or novel treatments, and often utilise the pragmatic community-based trial design to ensure generalisability of the findings to the ‘real world’.
Current research highlights
The harms from gambling are severe but often hidden because of stigma. Most people who suffer harms do not seek help from services until their gambling is completely out of control and they are in debt, relationships have broken down or worse. Our research in problem gambling is focused on developing and testing mobile phone-based messaging applications that help people to access ‘just-in-time’ support to prevent them lapsing with pokie machines or progressing from infrequent to compulsive, very harmful gambling.
Our current trial is in its early development stage and involves adapting an online programme developed by researchers from Deakin University, Australia, into a mobile app format for New Zealanders who don’t access or use problem gambling services but do want support to help them gain control, and either stop gambling altogether or stop their harmful gambling.
NZ Step Away Trial
A randomised-controlled clinical trial investigating whether six-months assess to the ‘NZ Step Away’ app can reduce the frequency of alcohol abuse and increase engagement with substance abuse related health services by hazardous drinkers.
This feasibility project is funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand and was designed in collaboration with external investigators Dr Suzanna Galea-Singer (Waitemata DHB) and Professor Patrick Dulin (University of Alaska Anchorage). The study will finish in December 20198
For more information contact Associate Professor Natalie Walker (Principal Investigator)
RAUORA is a single-blind, randomised, non-inferiority randomised controlled trial examining the effectiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness of cytisine (Tabex®) compared to varenicline (Champix®) for smoking cessation in Māori and whānau of Māori. The trial is led by Associate Professor Natalie Walker and is a collaboration with the School of Pharmacy, University of Auckland, Brunel University London, and the Lakes District Health Board. The trial is aiming to enrol 2,140 participant who are daily smokers (≥18 years), live in the Lakes District Health Board region of NZ, self-identify as Māori or whānau of Māori, are motivated to quit, and are eligible for subsidised varenicline under special authority conditions. The trial is funded by a three-year grant from the Health Research Council of NZ.
In China, around 60% of men aged 25-44 years smoke tobacco. This group (about 250 million people in number) is the target of a study led by PhD student Jinsong Chen. His supervisor, Professor Chris Bullen says “Jinsong has developed and tested a unique smartphone smoking cessation app within WeChat, China’s most popular social media platform. Remarkably, all development work with app end users and a pilot randomised trial to evaluate effectiveness on smoking status has been conducted digitally –remotely –with no face to face contact.” The results of the trial are due later this year.
A randomised-controlled clinical trial designed to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of an adaptive treatment for smoking cessation in people with mental health problems and addictions.
The project is funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand and was designed in collaboration with external investigators Dr George Laking, Dr Susanna Galea and Dr David Newcombe.
For more information contact Professor Chris Bullen (Principal Investigator).
Previous Research Highlights
ASCEND-2 is a three-arm, pragmatic, community-based clinical trial designed to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of combining nicotine patches with a second generation e-cigarette (with and without nicotine) plus behavioural support, on smoking abstinence. The trial recruited 1124 participants and has recently finished. The trial protocol is published and available here. A publication of the main findings is currently under review.
CASCAID is a three-arm, pragmatic, community-based, non-inferiority trial designed to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of cytisine compared to usual Quitline care (Nicotine patches and/or gum or lozenges). The trial was undertaken between 2011 and 2013 and recruited 1310 participants. The main findings of the trial were published in 2014 the New England Journal of Medicine, and are available here.
The LABEL study involved a qualitative study (with seven focus groups) and a four-arm clinical trial (involving 600 people). Both studies investigated the impact of energy labelling of alcoholic beverages on consumers perceptions, and likely purchase and consumption behaviour. Publications of the main findings from each study are in press.
SPGeTTI- A Gambling Harm Reduction Study
The goal of this research was to explore and test if using the SPGeTTI app could help participants stop or reduce the gambling harms being experienced. SPGeTTI was designed to deliver a package of tailored support messages and information to anyone who is, or thinks they may be, experiencing harms from gambling. This project had ethical approval, is registered with ANZCTR and was funded by the Ministry of Health.
There were 5 inter-related phases in the SPGeTTI Phase II project.
- Estimating smartphone ownership and patterns of use among people with problem gambling.
- Estimating likely recruitment, retention and sample size for the trial.
- Developing content, features and functions.
- Testing content, features and functions for face validity and acceptability, technical refinement and testing.
- Evaluating its effectiveness.
To read about the findings of the formative phase, click here.
This study was NIHI's original text message smoking cessation intervention and was tested in a national RCT in 2002. A Māori version of the text message programme was developed by Māori co-investigators and offered to Māori participants. The trial found that those participants receiving STOMP were twice as likely to quit as those in the control group. STOMP was shown to be as effective for Māori participants as for non-Māori participants.