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Public perceptions of drugs causing most deaths in Australia 1986–93

Borland, R., Donaghue, N. and Hill, D. (1997) Public perceptions of drugs causing most deaths in Australia 1986–93. Drug and Alcohol Review, 16 (2). pp. 131-136.

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Drug use is a major cause of preventable mortality and morbidity in Australia. Tobacco is by far the largest cause of drug-related deaths. This paper reports changes in public awareness of the relative morbidity risks of different drugs between 1986 and 1993, a period of considerable activity for drug education and control. Broadly representative samples of Australians were surveyed in the two years using the same methods. Results indicate a significant increase in identification of tobacco as the largest cause of death, from a list of six drugs, although only a minority of respondents were correct in 1993. Alcohol was the second most identified drug, consistent with it being responsible for most drug deaths not attributable to tobacco. These results are discussed in the context of other studies. It is concluded that while improvement in knowledge has occurred, it is unlikely to be sufficiently strong to motivate action.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
Copyright: © Australian Professional Society on Alcohol and Other Drugs
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