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POPH90245 Public Health Illness And Society

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  • Course Code: POPH90245
  • University: The University Of Sydney
  • Country: Australia


Choose a health issue; demonstrate how theory can be used to explain or better understand this issue

In this piece, you may find it easier to make your argument if you focus on a particular aspect of a health issue (eg. ‘Treatment of drug addiction’, rather than ‘addiction’ or ‘health promotion to reduce smoking rates’ rather than ‘smoking’). You may use one, two, or a few theorists to explain or better understand your issue. Make sure your argument is clearly articulated and your written piece well organised to convey your argument. Spell out your argument both at the start of your paper (I am going to argue that…) and at the end (I have shown that…).

Specific criteria

  • Clear description of the health issue to be addressed in your paper
  • Clear description of the theory (or theories) chosen to analyse the problem and why it (they) was chosen
  • Analysis of the health issue using the theory (or theories)
  • Explanation of the value that this analysis could add to efforts to address this health issue

Generic criteria

  • Critical thinking
  • Coherent written expression
  • Logical organisation and presentation
  • Evidence of editing & proofreading



In this paper I am going to argue that lack of proper health promotion campaigns are responsible for the lack of awareness among the adolescents about drug addiction.

The abuse of associated with the usage of prescription drugs is still a primary health shortcoming prevalent on a global scale. As reported by The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), an estimated five percent of populations groups living worldwide engaged in illicit drug usage in 2017 [1]. Recent research has uncovered, a positive correlation between the adolescent drug abuse and turning to be a problematic drug user in the adulthood. Adolescents are the vulnerable groups of drug addiction [2].

Prevention of the drug abuse among the adolescents needs awareness that places the youth at the target risks. In order to keep the adolescent aware of the proposed risk factors and the protective factors it is necessary to carry out effective health promotion campaigns and prevention programs [3]. But the argument of this paper is that there are less health promotion campaigns or the programs are not effective in spreading awareness about alcohol addiction among the adolescents. (4) have addressed several factors outlining risk required to enhance effectiveness of prevention programs, which includes a necessity to emphasize an array of risks and the protective factors, provide an appropriate target group include the materials for helping out the young people to recognise the peer pressure for engaging in drug usage, including social and personal skills training to build resistance, delivery of information by interactive methods and cultural sensitivity that includes appropriate linguistic or audio-visual content familiar to the target audience. Hence a successful prevention program should incorporate all these characteristics to spread awareness among the adolescents.

It has to be remembered that education regarding the drug abuse program is a significant part for aiding the youths to comprehend the facets of this matter. The information should contain factual data about the concept of substance abuse , cautioning signs of dependence and information of how specified drugs impact on physical and cognitive health [5].


A variety of authors have commented that the health promotion programs typically lack the theoretical foundation and are based on a conceptual model that do not confirm to the current norms and the values of the normal practice of health promotion. The theory that will be chosen for this topic is one of the behavioural change theories- The Health belief model (1966). This model was developed by Irwin Rosenstock in 1966 [6]. The key elements of the health belief model focuses on individual beliefs about a health issue that predicts the health related belief of an individual. The model defines the key factors influencing the health behaviour, the belief of the consequence, the potential positive benefits, the perceived barriers to action and confidence in the ability to succeed [6]. This can be related to the fact that while carrying out a health promotion practice for creating awareness regarding substance abuse among the adolescent population, it is important to understand the perception of the adolescents about drugs or what exact information do they have about drugs.

Another theory that will be used in this context is the addiction theory. There are four theories in relation to addiction- The moral theory, the disease theory, the learning and the behavioural therapy and the socio-cultural theories [7]. The moral theory helps to discover the addiction as being criminal and perspective of it being a sin. As per this moral model a person possessing moral strength would generally avoid addiction. Again according to the Temperance Model, an addiction is an involuntary disease. As per the disease model of addiction, addiction is a medical disorder that might lead to behavioural dysfunction. Functional deterioration might occur with the progression of the disease [8]. However the main rationale behind stating these theories are to seek the ways to modify the health promotion programs for drug addiction.


Analysing the health issue

A lot of health promotion program had been taken up so far to reduce substance abuse amongst the adolescents. Some of the notable health promotion techniques taken up in Australia so far are- The needle and the syringe programs, ICE (Methamphetamine) campaigns, National drug strategy campaign and many more. As per the reports none of the campaign had been much effective [9]. Considering the needle and the syringe program, although the program focuses on the transmission of the HCV and the HIV virus through used needles for drug injection, but it encourages people taking drugs with fresh needles, and did not focus on the stopping substance abuse as well. This signifies that that the objective of this health promotion program is questionable [9].The Anti- drug campaign taken place in Australia also failed gravely due to the inability to meet certain standards. One of the important reasons for this failure is the lack of the appropriate data about the drug use among the Australians. Illicit drug use of different kinds is underreported in most of the studies concerning the high risk individuals. There was no over-reporting of the marijuana use, often suspected to exist in the adolescents. Other important factor behind the failure of the anti-drug campaigns or its evaluation measurement is the independence of the interventions and the measure of the outcomes, inadequacy of the analytical plan, inadequacy of the cross sectional analysis [10].  Furthermore the mass media fail to deliver a proper substance abuse campaign. This is due to the fact that the campaigns are never based on established theories and are mostly manipulative[12]. One of the main factor behind the failure of the program is that the teenagers were good at dismissing the exaggerations regarding the detrimental health effects of the drugs such as marijuana, methamphetamine [11]. Hence theoretical approaches should be taken in order to make successful health promotion.

Some of the components that determine the ability of the health belief model are-  

  • Gathering information by conducting a health needs assessment for determining people who are at risk and the target population; in this case the adolescentsvulnerable to substance abuse[10].
  • Conveying the consequences of the health issue associated withthe risk behaviours like mental disorders, violence and antisocial activities and accidents in a clear and an ambiguous fashion for understanding the perceived severity [3].
  • Communicating to the adolescents that are involved in taking the recommended action and highlighting the benefits to action [10].
  • Provision of assistance in the identification and the removal of the barriers such as low funding to carry out the prevention program, the less involvement of the media or the inability to reach the remote places [3].

How can such analysis help to address the issue

Such an analysis would help to understand the theoretical basis of the heath issue that is, addiction, which would help to understand the underlying reason behind drug addiction among the adolescents and would also help to understand the perception of the adolescents related to substance abuse [4]. Such as the many of the adolescents simply dismiss the idea of harm of drug abuse. Furthermore the health belief model would help understanding the barriers to the health promotion campaigns and would thus help the policy makers to make strategies as per the needs. Such an analysis indicates towards the need of a proper health needs assessment, which would be helpful in creating the objectives of any further anti-drug campaign. Furthermore this written piece had also provided about the drawbacks of the mass media that should be amended for a successful anti-drug strategy [4]. Hence, we have shown that the drug prevention program carried out till now lacked a comprehensive approach and hence should be reviewed.



Salomonsen-Sautel S, Sakai JT, Thurstone C, Corley R, Hopfer C. Medical marijuana use among adolescents in substance abuse treatment. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 2012 Jul 1;51(7):694-702.

Sawyer SM, Afifi RA, Bearinger LH, Blakemore SJ, Dick B, Ezeh AC, Patton GC. Adolescence: a foundation for future health. The Lancet. 2012 Apr 28;379(9826):1630-40.

Chakravarthy, B., Shah, S., &Lotfipour, S. (2013). Adolescent drug abuse - Awareness & prevention. The Indian Journal of Medical Research, 137(6), 1021–1023.

Eldredge LK, Markham CM, Ruiter RA, Kok G, Parcel GS. Planning health promotion programs: an intervention mapping approach. John Wiley & Sons; 2016.

Neiger BL, Thackeray R, Van Wagenen SA, Hanson CL, West JH, Barnes MD, Fagen MC. Use of social media in health promotion: purposes, key performance indicators, and evaluation metrics. Health promotion practice. 2012 Mar;13(2):159-64.

Green EC, Murphy E. Health belief model. The Wiley Blackwell encyclopedia of health, illness, behavior, and society. 2014 Jan 6:766-9.

West R, Brown J. Theory of addiction. John Wiley & Sons; 2013 Aug 14.

Heyman GM. Addiction and choice: theory and new data. Frontiers in psychiatry. 2013 May 6;4:31.

Folch C, Casabona J, Espelt A, Majó X, Meroño M, Gonzalez V, Wiessing L, Colom J, Brugal MT, REDAN Study Group. High prevalence and incidence of HIV and HCV among new injecting drug users with a large proportion of migrants—is prevention failing?. Substance use & misuse. 2016 Jan 28;51(2):250-60.

Hornik R, Jacobsohn L, Orwin R, Piesse A, Kalton G. Effects of the national youth anti-drug media campaign on youths. American Journal of Public Health. 2008 Dec;98(12):2229-36.

Magura S. Failure of intervention or failure of evaluation: A meta-evaluation of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign evaluation. Substance use & misuse. 2012 Nov 20;47(13-14):1414-20.

Allara E, Ferri M, Bo A, Gasparrini A, Faggiano F. Are mass-media campaigns effective in preventing drug use? A Cochrane systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ open. 2015 Sep 1;5(9):e007449.


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