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Child and adolescent mental health
Assessing the European impact of alcohol misuse and illicit drug dependence research: clinical practice guidelines and evidence-base policy


Background Despite alcohol and illicit drug dependence being one of the most common diagnoses in Europe, there is heterogeneity of research evidence used in policy and practice.

Objective We sought to (1) evaluate European research outputs on alcohol misuse and drug addiction in 2002–2018 in the Web of Science, (2) compare these with their burden of disease and (3) determine their impact in several ways.

Methods A bibliometric research was undertaken including an assessment of the citation counts, the influence of research on members of national health advisory committees, and their contribution to the evidence base of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs).

Findings There were 3201 analysed references cited in 28 CPGs across 11 European Countries on alcohol misuse and illicit drug abuse. Research conducted in the USA dominated both sets of CPGs, while many European countries were overcited relative to their research presence. The illicit drug research appeared to be adequate relative to the evidence of harm in Europe. However, alcohol misuse research appeared grossly inadequate to the harm it causes by a factor of 20.

Conclusions The volume of research on illicit drug addiction is commensurate to the European burden, whereas alcohol misuse is far below what is needed to curb a significant source of harm.

Clinical implications The research asymmetries call for attention to the causes of the problem. Development of research-based solutions to a serious social harm is needed, including minimum pricing and collaborative work to harmonise efforts on disease management and treatment practices across European countries.

  • clinical practice guidelines
  • illicit drug dependence
  • alcohol misuse
  • research
  • Europe
  • impact

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