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 and turning 16 years during the year of data collection.
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 seventh data collection wave are presented in the 2019 ESPAD Report (see http://espad.org/report/home/). The next data collection will take place in 2024, exceptionally with five years of difference, in order to improve timing coordination with the HBSC (Health Behaviours among School Children) project.
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), who steer the work of the 2015 wave of the project, and the production (by EMCDDA) of the 2015 ESPAD Report.
Dr Sabrina Molinaro (CNR, Italy) was elected the new ESPAD Coordinator by the ESPAD Assembly at its November 2016 meeting. The Assembly also elected Stanislas Spilka and Pavla Chomynova as new members of the Steering Committee.
The ESPAD Steering Committee of January 2017 agreed on a revised and more collegial form of ESPAD coordination, in which the task will be shared by the ESPAD Coordinator and the EMCDDA representative, in addition to the other members of the Steering Committee.
The ESPAD Steering Committee from October 2020:
Sabrina Molinaro (ESPAD coordinator)
João Matias (EMCDDA representative)
To find out more about project history, background and organisation please refer to section Introduction and Methodology of the 2019 ESPAD Report.