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UKCRC Health Research Classification System

Substance misuse and addiction

Advice on health categories

Both smoking and alcohol have their own specific guidance topics relating to misuse and addiction.

Other substances should be classified depending on the nature of the research.

  • All studies of addiction are treated as psychological conditions and should be coded as Mental Health.
  • Any study of substance abuse / misuse that relates to a specific disease or condition should be coded to the appropriate health category:
    • e.g. intravenous drug use and risk of infection should be coded Infection.
  • The Disputed Aetiology and Other health category also includes some types of social services research for specific ‘healthy’ at risk groups that is not relevant to the general population, e.g. young people or minorities at risk of developing substance misuse problems. Note that in these cases Other should only be used if there is no other disease/condition of focus presented.


Advice on research activities

Substance misuse is considered a risk factor for other diseases. Therefore, interventions to reduce substance misuse should be coded as 3 Prevention, even if the person is already misusing. Use 5 Treatment Development or 6 Treatment Evaluation for studies focussed on treatment of an existing substance-misuse-related disease and in cases of secondary prevention.

Additional guidance on differentiating secondary and primary prevention is also available.