4.2 Stage 1: research with stakeholders and service providers
4.3 Stage 2: research with target audiences
4.5 Learnings from recruitment
4.6 Discussion areas
4.7 Research timing
4.1 OverviewThe research involved a two stage qualitative methodology. The initial stage involved research among stakeholders and service providers and consisted of 2 group discussions and 16 in-depth interviews conducted face-to-face or by telephone. A second stage of research among methamphetamine users from the target audiences followed. This comprised 34 small group discussions and 18 face-to-face or telephone interviews. Twelve of these interviews were with Indigenous Australians. Each small group discussion comprised between 4-7 respondents and was of approximately 1½ hours duration.
4.2 Stage 1: research with stakeholders and service providersThe research objectives outlined above were consistent across both stages. In addition, the initial research among stakeholders and service providers sought to:
- gain stakeholder feedback on the broad approach to discussions and methodology with the target audiences
- apply any learnings that stakeholders and service providers may have in dealing with methamphetamine users and
- gain feedback on the proposed sample structure.
As main findings from the stakeholder research were later validated through group discussions with target audiences, these have not been reported on separately. However, stakeholders made a number of recommendations in regard to the structure of the sample among target audiences, including:
- having injectors and non-injectors in different groups
- recruiting on the basis of concern levels about use of ice
- incorporating sex workers in the sample and
- incorporating high end professionals in the sample, for example people working in financial services and banking.
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Table 1: final sample of stakeholder and service providers
|Group depth||Organisation||No. of respondents||Location||State|
|Group 1||Service providers, needle and syringe program managers and pharmacists||6-8||Sydney||NSW|
|Group 2||Service providers, needle and syringe program managers and pharmacists||6-8||Melbourne||VIC|
|Depth 1||Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia||1||Canberra*||ACT|
|Depth 2||Australian Users Leagues||4||Canberra||ACT|
|Depth 3||Australian Users Leagues||1||Perth*||WA|
|Depth 4||State based AIDS Councils||1||Sydney||NSW|
|Depth 5||State based AIDS Councils||1||Perth*||WA|
|Depth 6||State based AIDS Councils||1||Brisbane*||QLD|
|Depth 7||State & Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Councils||1||Hobart*||TAS|
|Depth 8||State & Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Councils||1||Darwin*||NT|
|Depth 9||Rural and Regional AOD Treatment Centres||1||Cairns*||QLD|
|Depth 10||Rural and Regional AOD Treatment Centres||1||Hope Forest*||SA|
|Depth 11||Rural and Regional AOD Treatment Centres||1||Armadale*||WA|
|Depth 12||Rural and Regional AOD Treatment Centres||1||Orange*||NSW|
|Depth 13||Drug & Alcohol Units of several Aboriginal Medical Services and Mental Health Services across Australia||1||Metro and |
|NSW, SA, WA|
|Depth 14||Drug & Alcohol Units of several Aboriginal Medical Services and Mental Health Services across Australia||1||Metro and |
|NSW, SA, WA|
|Depth 15||Drug & Alcohol Units of several Aboriginal Medical Services and Mental Health Services across Australia||1||Metro and |
|NSW, SA, WA|
|Depth 16||Metro and |
|NSW, SA, WA|
4.3 Stage 2: research with target audiencesThe proposed sample comprised 36 small group discussions consisting of 4-6 respondents among the target audiences, and 12 individual or paired depth interviews with users among the Indigenous population conducted by the Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre of Australia (CIRCA). The sample proposed was segmented according to target audience, frequency of methamphetamine use, gender, and state. The final sample included 34 small group discussions and 18 in-depth interviews with a similar distribution across groups of target audiences, frequency of use, gender and state as that proposed.
Table 2 below illustrates the differences in these variables between the proposed sample and that achieved.
Table 3 and Table 4 show the final sample.
Table 2: Differences between proposed and final samples
|Gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender||4||4|
|Regular rave/ dance party attendees||4||3|
|Mix rave party attendees/ young people/ uni students||3||3|
|Workers in particular industry||9||7+1 depth|
|Young people aged 16-24||4||4|
|General (including occasional/ regular) and those over 25 yrs||5||6|
|Rural/ regional||4||3+4 depths|
|Sex workers||0||1 depth|
|Indigenous||12 depths||12 depths|
Frequency of use
|Frequency of use||Proposed||Achieved|
|Heavy - several times a month||13||13+2 depths|
|Regular - at least once a month||10||10+2 depths|
|Occasional - less than once a month||9||10+2 depths|
|Stopped using - not within the last 3 months||4||1|
|Mix males/ females||9||12|
Table 3: Final group sample of methamphetamine users
|1||Gay, under 30's||Heavy||Not concerned||M||Metro||NSW|
|2||Rave party attendees||Regular||Not concerned||M||Metro||NSW|
|3||High end professionals||Occasional||Mix||M||Metro||NSW|
|7||Uni students, 18-21||Regular||Not concerned||Mix||Metro||NSW|
|11||Truckies, construction, hospitality (older)||Regular||Not concerned||M||Metro||SA|
|12||Professionals||Regual / Occasional||Mix||F||Metro||SA|
|13||Young, Uni students, Rave party attendees||Regular||Not concerned||Mix||Metro||SA|
|14||General (incl. sex workers)||Heavy||Not concerned||F||Metro||SA|
|16||Rave party attendees||Occasional||Not concerned||Mix||Metro||Vic|
|17||Rural/ regional||Occasional / heavy||Not concerned||Mix||Regional||Vic|
|18||Rural/ regional||Occasional / heavy||Mix||Mix||Regional||Vic|
|19||General||Not any more||Not concerned||M||Metro||Vic|
|25||Drivers/ construction/ labour||Heavy||Mix||M (one F)||Metro||WA|
|28||Young, Uni students, Rave party attendees||Occasional / Heavy||Concerned||Mix||Metro||WA|
|29||University/ TAFE students||Occasional||Not concerned||F||Metro||WA|
|30||Gay||Regular / Heavy||Concerned||M||Metro||WA|
|31||Construction/ labour/ hospitality||Occasional||Mix||Mix||Regional||Qld|
|32||Young, Uni students, Rave party attendees||Occasional||Concerned||F||Regional||Qld|
|34||Rave party attendees||Heavy||Not concerned||Mix||Metro||Qld|
Table 4: Final in-depth interview sample of methamphetamine usersTable 4 is separated into 2 smaller tables in this HTML version for accessibility reasons. It is presented as one table in the PDF version.
Rural/regional, taxi driver or sex worker
|1||Rural / regional||Heavy||Not concerned||M||NSW|
|2||Rural / regional||Heavy||Not concerned||M||NSW|
|3||Rural / regional||Occasional||Concerned||F||NSW|
|4||Rural / regional||Not any more||Concerned||F||NSW|
|5||Taxi driver||Regular / heavy||Not concerned||M||WA|
|6||Sex worker||Regular / heavy||Concerned||F||QLD|
|13||32-36||M||Western Sydney, NSW|
|14||32-36||M||Western Sydney, NSW|
|15||32-36||F||Western Sydney, NSW|
|16||28-34||M||Inner Sydney, NSW|
|17||28-34||M||Inner Sydney, NSW|
|18||28-34||F||Inner Sydney, NSW|
4.4 RecruitmentThe primary recruitment strategy used was to identify potential respondents through accredited recruitment specialists and then to use the technique of 'snowballing'. This involves recruiters identifying people who may know other people who fit the profiles of the target groups. Once identified, the nature of the study is explained and they in turn are asked to approach others who fit the profiles of the people required in the sample. Blue Moon has used this technique successfully in the past on a number of projects involving users of illicit drugs.
Another method used by some recruiters was to contact organisations that offer support and assistance for drug users. This method is useful for reaching groups such as intravenous drug users. However, it does have the limitation of only targeting those who have already sought some assistance or support for their drug use. Despite these strategies, a number of difficulties were encountered during recruitment. These in turn resulted in the changes (described above) that were made to the proposed sample.
The first difficulty was recruiter reluctance. In contrast to previous research undertaken with users of illicit drugs, many recruiters were unwilling to approach people on the topic of methamphetamines, particularly when the example of ice was given as a potential drug that could be used. This reluctance was based on:
- a perception by many that all methamphetamine users are 'junkies'
- an unwillingness to ask people on their database due to anticipated negative reactions and
- general fear of encountering people who use methamphetamines, particularly by those that held the groups in their offices.
Recruitment in Indigenous communities was just as difficult. In previous research among users of illicit drugs, CIRCA had successfully recruited respondents through rehabilitation centres, Aboriginal Medical Services, youth workers, Indigenous researchers and their network of community organisations. These recruitment channels did not prove effective for users of methamphetamines, with a number of barriers identified.
Firstly, there was little awareness with Indigenous researchers and community organisations of methamphetamine use. Secondly, recruitment through Aboriginal Medical Services was not possible due to:
- concerns of anonymity
- the need for ethics approval by some services and
- indications from stakeholders that Indigenous users of methamphetamines were likely to be accessing mainstream services rather than Indigenous services due to the stigma associated with methamphetamine, specifically ice, use in their communities.
4.5 Learnings from recruitmentIn contrast to previous research among users of illicit drugs, the reaction of recruiters illustrated a greater stigma held among the general public towards ice users, which also extends to users of other methamphetamines. Later group discussions indicated that methamphetamine users recognise this public perception, resulting in a reluctance to discuss use of the drugs with those outside the ‘social’ using circle. There was also some indication during recruitment that the use of snowballing was made more difficult by the fact that heavier users tend to disguise the extent of their use even from those within their ‘social’ circle.
4.6 Discussion areasSemi-structured discussion guides were developed for use in both stages of the research to ensure that all the issues were covered in every interview. The use of semi-structured guides allows the respondents themselves to dictate the flow of discussions with guidance from the moderator, rather than the questions being administered in the question/response format common in quantitative research.
A separate but similar guide was prepared for the Indigenous target group. All discussion guides are appended (Appendix A). Each guide was approved by members of the department prior to use.
4.7 Research timingThe initial research stage among stakeholders and service providers occurred between 10-21 September, 2007. The majority of fieldwork among the target audiences was conducted between 2-23 October, 2007. The fieldwork concluded with a small number of Indigenous interviews on 5 November, 2007.
14. Given the difficulties in targeting this group in this study and in the methodology used in other community surveys (McKetin, R. et al, 2005 cited in Illicit Drug Use in Australia: Epidemiology, use patterns and associated harm, (2nd edition), Ross, J., (ed), National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre, 2007), some consideration should be given to other methods of encouraging participation should further research among this audience be undertaken.