ESPAD was initiated due to the lack of comparable data on substance use among European teenagers. In order to collect such data, a common methodological protocol was established in the early 1990s, including a master questionnaire. For pragmatic reasons it was decided to conduct the survey among students in classrooms.
The overall aim of ESPAD is to collect comparable data on substance use among 15–16 year old students in as many European countries as possible. The most important objectives in the long run are to monitor trends, and to compare trends between countries and groups of countries. In order to do so, the surveys are repeated every four years, with 1995 as the starting point.
Results from the sixth data collection wave are presented in the 2015 ESPAD Report (see http://espad.org/report/home/) and the next data collection will be carried out in 2019.
Students’ participation is voluntary and anonymous and no results are presented for individuals or single classes. Apart from using a common questionnaire on a commonly defined target population also data collection period, field work practices as well as capture, cleaning, delivery and analyses of the data are carried out in standardised fashion.
Support for the project has been provided for the project by the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and the Pompidou Group at the Council of Europe and. The data collections in individual countries are funded through national sources.
During the transition phase (2015 and 2016) the ESPAD project was coordinated by a Coordination Committee (Ludwig Kraus, Håkan Leifman and Julian Vicente). In ESPAD Assembly of November 2016 (Lisbon) Sabrina Molinaro (Italy) was elected as new ESPAD Coordinator.
To find out more about project history, background and organisation please refer to the document Overview of the ESPAD Project.