International workshop | 5-Step Method for family members affected by relatives’ addiction problems

An International workshop for collaborators and potential collaborators involved in research and action using the 5-Step Method for family members affected by relatives’ addiction problems

Tuesday 8th and Wednesday 9th November 2011, Park Inn hotel, York, England

Summary of the proceedings

Following introductions, the English Alcohol Drugs and the Family (ADF) team opened the proceedings by making short presentations about: the theoretical background to their work, the 5-Step Method, and the English programme of research to date; options for 5-Step research in other countries; and possible models for international collaboration. The whole of the rest of Tuesday was devoted to each of the other country representatives describing relevant research, evaluation and development work taking place in their countries, either conducted by themselves or by others. This was followed by questions and discussion. Wednesday morning was devoted to country representatives making brief statements about plans and prospects for relevant work in their countries. This was followed by detailed discussions in small groups, followed by further discussion of plans including potential inter-country collaborations.

Relevant work, recently completed or now ongoing, was described in several countries. This included: an evaluation of the 5-Step Method, with a comparison group, 12 months follow-up, and a cost analysis, carried out in an indigenous community in Mexico; an evaluation in Northern Ireland of an adaptation of the 5-Step Method for adolescents, including those with parents with either addiction or mental health or combined addiction and mental health problems; a survey of 500 family members affected by addiction in São Paulo, Brazil; and a quantitative and qualitative study of the experiences of affected family members in three Italian regions and an evaluation of the 5-Step Method in Naples. Future work, already funded, or for which funds had been applied, included: an evaluation of the training in the 5-Step Method of 2000 health and social workers throughout Mexico, using web-based methods; a pilot study of the 5-Step Method in São Paulo and a larger survey of 3000 affected family members, using standard family assessments, across Brazil; an adult extension of the Northern Ireland 5-Step adolescent work; and an evaluated programme of training in the 5-Step Method for members of the national Family Support Network in the Irish Republic.

Other plans which were formulated during the meeting included: an evaluation of the use of the 5-Step Method in a telephone helpline for family members in New Zealand; a programme of work in Uganda which would include a study of the experiences of affected family members, training in the 5-Step Method for village health workers, nurses and others, and the inclusion of relevant study, research and field work for public health and undergraduate students; a study at Ph.D. level in the greater Cape Town area of South Africa which might include translation and validation of family assessments and a qualitative study of family members’ experiences. Possible developments would also be actively pursued in the next few months in both Chile and Nigeria.

A number of general issues emerged during the two days of discussion. These included: the need for self-help materials for low/non-literate populations; the importance of taking into account effects on the extended family and the wider community; the problem of identifying affected family members; the problem of funding work with family members which may be seen as 'extra', and sustaining it; the need to assess longer term outcomes including resilience and life transformations; and the accreditation of 5-Step work.

The meeting agreed that participants would keep in touch with each other in a number of ways. One member of the English ADF Group would be a main contact person for each of the other countries. A professional social networking site, such as LinkedIn, would be used for communication amongst the whole group, and a dropbox would be used for sharing of materials. Useful bilateral links were also established, for example between Mexico and Brazil, and between Mexico and Chile. There was also support at the meeting for the development of an International Alliance for the promotion of research and action and policy change on the subject of affected family members, and it was agreed to take this proposal forward.

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