Q & A

Q & A for General

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  • Q: What are the icons for?

    Positive Choices is rich in information and resources so we have created a library of icons to give you a visual short-cut to the kind of information provided.

    If you have difficulty remembering what the icons stand for, remember that you can hover your mouse over the icons and a quick pop up balloon will tell you what it's for. Below is the list of icons with a brief explanation of their purpose:


    User Groups: User groups are the main audience types that this site caters for.

     
    The Teacher user group is represented by stacked books icon in an orange circle. Resources of this type are educational resources that can be used or adapted for the classroom.
     
    The Parent user group is represented by a silhouette of two people in a blue circle. Resources of this type are informational resources for parents containing drug facts and guidance.
     
    The Student user group is represented by a pencil or pen in a purple circle. Resources of this type are educational resources designed for student use, with a focus on resources that are engaging and fun, such as videos, apps and games.


    Resource Types: Resources are categorised by type of information and media type.

    Recommended programs contain a full program of drug and alcohol lessons designed for classroom delivery by teachers. All our recommended programs have demonstrated benefits in research evaluations. 
     
    Quick Activites are brief educational exercises that can be completed within the duration of one class. 
     
    Drugs A-Z contains information and facts related to particular drug types and classes. This information is updated regularly as new research evidence becomes available.
     
    Factsheets contain information and facts informed by the latest research. These are available as a downloadable resource for all user types.
     
    Videos contain educational content and can be used by teachers as classroom resources or by parents and students seeking information.
     
    Games are a fun way for students and young people to learn about drugs and alcohol.
     
    Apps are resources that can be downloaded to mobile devices.
     
    Webinars are recorded online seminars that are held at scheduled dates. Some webinars include online user participation, and may require (free) registration. They provide up-to-date information for teachers, parents and students.

    Resources are also given an evidence rating based on the amount of research and evidence backing up that resource. These are given rating icons. For more information on this rating system and its icons, see the section under "What do the Evidence Ratings mean?"

  • Q: Do I need to pay to use this site?

    The Positive Choices drug education portal is a free resource funded by the Australian Government Department of Health. It is designed to help students, parents and teachers access accurate up-to-date drug information and prevention resources. 

  • Q: Using search filters on this site

    There are a vast number of resources available on Positive Choices, so to help you sort through it, we've created a list of filters to help you simplify and narrow your search results. Search filters can be seen on the left hand column under the "Sort my search by" heading on search result pages, or when viewing a list of resources (e.g., Teacher Resources and Recommended Program Resources).

    To filter your search results, click to expand each search category. For example, if you wish to filter your results to only show cannabis-related resources, you would click to expand all filters under "Drug Type", and click the checkbox for "cannabis". Then click on the "Update" button to refine  your search.

    Note: If you wish to remove the filters from your search results, you would have to uncheck the box next to the appropriate filter and click on the "Update" button. 

    You can also view a quick and handy video on how to use the search filters.

    If you have a question that you can't find the answer to why not get in touch? Just go to our contact page to ask your question.

  • Q: What are the user accounts for?

    While the resources on this site are freely accessible, there is also content specifically tailored for certain user groups, like lesson planning resources for Teachers, family-related resources for Parents, and educational games and videos for Students. Having a user account will make it easier to find resources relevant to you.

    Signing up for a user account is quick and simple. Once you have a user account, you can bookmark or save resources available on this site, and access them in your account. Sign up for an account now.

  • Q: What does evidence-based mean?

    To say that a resource is “evidence-based” is to say that it is informed or supported by evidence. The evidence that supports or backs up a particular resource may take different forms.

    In the case of the factsheets listed on Positive Choices, “evidence-based” means that the information provided in these factsheets comes from a reliable information source, and is backed by research studies. For example, the Ecstasy and Pills factsheet was developed by a leading research institute (the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre). To develop the factsheet, researchers from this institute conducted a review of published research studies reporting on the patterns of use, effects and harms associated with the drug, ecstasy. This means we can be confident that the information is fact-based and accurate. 

    In the case of a school-based prevention program, “evidence-based” typically means that the benefits of the program have been tested in a research study. For example, the Climate Schools Alcohol and Cannabis module is an evidence-based prevention program, because it has been tested and shown to have benefits in a randomised controlled trial. A randomised controlled trial is a study in which roughly half of the participants are randomly allocated to receive the program being tested (in this case, Climate Schools), and the others are randomly allocated to receive a comparison program (in this case, standard drug education for NSW schools). By randomly allocating participants and comparing different approaches, this type of study design provides strong evidence. In this example we can say that Climate Schools is an evidence-based program because students who received the program drank less and used cannabis less over the follow-up period compared to students who received standard drug education.

    The evidence-base for resources is important, as this helps us to judge how reliable and effective the resource is. Not all information on the internet is reliable and accurate. To help you evaluate the resources listed on the Positive Choices portal, we provide information about who developed the resources (under "Developers"), and the evidence that supports the resource (under "Evidence Base"). We also provide an “Evidence Rating” as a shortcut to help users assess the strength of the evidence supporting each resource.

    For more about the use of evidence-based practice in Education, we recommend the following paper: Hempenstall, K. (2006). What does evidence-based practice in education mean? Australian Journal of Learning Disabilities, 11, 83-92.

  • Q: What do the Evidence Ratings mean?

    To help you evaluate the resources listed on the Positive Choices portal, we provide information about who developed the resources (under "Developers"), and the evidence that supports the resource (under "Evidence Base"). This information will help you to assess the strength of the evidence supporting the resource.

    We also provide our own “Evidence Rating” as a shortcut. Resources with the strongest evidence rating (three stars) are those with the most evidence to support their effectiveness. The guide to the evidence ratings and icons is provided below:


    Evidence Rating: An evidence rating is provided for all resources and tells users about the research that supports the accuracy or effectiveness of the resource. 

     
    This icon indicates that there is evidence (either from research or peer review) to support the resource. Resources with the strongest evidence rating (three stars) are those with the most evidence to support their effectiveness.
    •  Three stars indicate that the benefits of the resource are supported by multiple published studies.
    • Two stars indicate that the benefits of the resource are supported by one published study.
    • One star indicates that an expert review of the resource has been conducted, or the information included in this factsheet has been compiled from expert review of peer-reviewed publications on this topic.
     
    This icon could indicate that the resource has not been tested or evaluated, or that the resource is currently being tested/evaluated, and results will be updated as they become available.
  • Q: How were resources selected for inclusion?

    The general process for selecting resources to be included in Positive Choices was as follows:

    1. A review of the research literature was conducted to identify potential resources. The Cochrane Library, Scopus, PsychINFO, PubMed and Medline databases were searched using specific keywords (e.g., School-based OR school* AND alcohol OR cannabis OR drugs OR ecstasy OR psychostimulants OR amphetamines). 
    2. Additional resources were identified through web searches using specific keywords (e.g., 'alcohol OR drug OR cannabis OR ecstasy’, AND ‘prevention OR education OR schools'), and scoping of national and international drug prevention sites and networks.
    3. Resources were independently reviewed by our team, and via consultation with teachers, parents and students, who provided feedback about the Positive Choices site and content.
    4. Only resources of high relevance and quality were selected for inclusion. For these resources, additional searches were conducted to collate the information required for listing on the portal. In cases where sufficient information could not be obtained, additional information was requested from the developers of the resource.

    Additional notes regarding selection of specific resource types are provided below:

    Recommended Programs:

    Drug prevention programs were identified through review of research publications. Programs developed in Australia and internationally were considered for inclusion. However, international programs were only included if the resources could be accessed and implemented in Australia. Programs were only included if benefits of delivering the program were demonstrated in at least one published study. The starting point for selection of resources was two systematic reviews conducted by researchers at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre:

    Champion, K. E., Newton, N. C., Barrett, E. L., & Teesson, M. (2013). A systematic review of school-based alcohol and other drug prevention programs facilitated by computers or the Internet. Drug and Alcohol Review, 32(2), 115-123.

    Teesson, M., Newton, N. C., & Barrett, E. L. (2012). Australian school-based prevention programs for alcohol and other drugs: A systematic review. Drug and Alcohol Review, 31(6), 731-736.

    Games:

    Selection of educational games was informed by the following systematic review conducted by researchers at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre:

    Rodriguez, D. M., Teesson, M., & Newton, N. C. (2014). A systematic review of computerised serious educational games about alcohol and other drugs for adolescents. Drug and Alcohol Review, 33(2), 129-135

    Additional games were identified through web searches and literature review as described above. Games were excluded if they were not designed for play on a computer.

    Videos and Apps:

    In most cases, research-based evidence was not available for these types of resources. Independent review of the resource was conducted by researchers at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre who considered the accuracy of the information as well as the presentation style and quality. A written summary of this review is provided for each resource under "Evidence Base". 

  • Q: What is the Australian National Drug Strategy?

    Positive Choices was funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and developed to align with the Australian National Drug Strategy (2010-2015).

    The aim of the National Drug Strategy 2010-2015 is to build safe and healthy communities by minimising alcohol, tobacco and other drug-related health, social and economic harms among individuals, families and communities. The National Drug Strategy encompasses three pillars:

    • Demand reduction to prevent the uptake and/or delay the onset of use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs; reduce the misuse of alcohol and the use of tobacco and other drugs in the community; and support people to recover from dependence and reintegrate with the community
    • Supply reduction to prevent, stop, disrupt or otherwise reduce the production and supply of illegal drugs; and control, manage and/or regulate the availability of legal drugs
    • Harm reduction to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

    By providing young people, their teachers and parents with drug information and prevention resources, Positive Choices is part of this broader strategy aimed at preventing and or delaying the uptake of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, and reducing the harm associated with these substances.