Comparing apples and oranges: investigating the utility of indexes as a measure of drug policy

May 2018

Ms Vivienne Moxham-Hall
Professor Alison Ritter
Dr Caitlin Hughes

Project description: 

This is the PhD project of Vivienne Moxham-Hall (supervised by Professor Alison Ritter and Dr Caitlin Hughes) investigating the utility of indexes as a measure of drug policy. Indexes are the quantification of multi-dimensional complex issues into a single summable score and have been employed in many different fields. Two notable examples are; the Human Development Index and the Global Peace Index. Benefits of indexes include: uniting multiple dimensions of an issue into one score and enabling the monitoring or benchmarking of changes in policy platforms over time and place.

This project will provide a rigorous investigation of the different approaches to index development, validation, and policy-analysis for drug policy through the creation of two distinct indexes; one of recreational cannabis laws in Australia and one of opioid overdose prevention laws in the United States of America. The development of these two indexes will enable the quantification of the multiple laws that make up a legislative framework into a single score which can be used to assess the cumulative impacts of these laws over time and/or place. In testing the utility of this method, we will investigate whether an index can answer research questions such as; what are the comparative impacts of cannabis laws across the Australian states and territories, and do opioid overdose prevention laws have an impact on opioid overdose rates in the US?

For full details of this project please visit the NDARC website.