Global Burden of Disease: Mental Disorders and Illicit Drug Use Expert Group

Researchers at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at the University of New South Wales and the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research at the University of Queensland are currently undertaking research that will determine the global burden of disease of illicit drug use and dependence and mental health disorders. This research is part of the broader Global Burden of Disease, Injuries and Risk Factors Study (GBD Study), which involves the work of a number of researchers from around the globe.

What is the GBD Study?


The new GBD Study commenced in the first half of 2007. It is the first major effort since the original GBD Study to carry out a complete systematic assessment of the data on all diseases and injuries and produce comprehensive and comparable estimates of the burden of diseases, injuries and risk factors for two time periods, 1990 and 2005. The project will last three years, culminating with the publication of complete estimates in 2010.

The GBD Study brings together a community of experts and leaders in epidemiology and other areas of public health research from around the world to measure current levels and recent trends in all major diseases, injuries, and risk factors, and to produce new and comprehensive sets of estimates and easy-to-use tools for research and teaching. More…

GBD Management Structure


A number of institutions from around the world are involved in the GBD project. A Core Team coordinates the study, with input and strategic guidance provided by the External Advisory Board. There are approximately 45 scientific Expert Groups for specific diseases, injuries and risk factors, across five ‘clusters’ of diseases and injuries.

Cluster C (Injures and Mental Health) is lead by Theo Vos, who oversees the co-leaders of the Mental Disorders and Illicit Drug Use Expert Group, Louisa Degenhardt (NDARC) and Harvey Whiteford (UQ).

Click here for a flow diagram of the management structure of the GBD project.

Mental Disorders and Illicit Drug Use Expert Group


The Mental Disorders and Illicit Drug Use Expert Group will conduct systematic reviews of the prevalence, incidence and duration of mental health disorders and associated mortality and disabling sequelae. Additionally exposure and effects of risk factors will be assessed. Expert Groups will communicate their figures at defined intervals with other Expert Groups and with the Core Team to ensure consistency across conditions and will be subjected to external peer review.

NDARC is collecting data on mortality from the following drug groups: heroin and other opiates, amphetamine type substances, cocaine, cannabis and benzodiazepines. Prevalence, incidence and disability associated with use, abuse and dependence of these substances by region is also being collected. The Population Attributable Fraction associated with illicit drug use for mortality and disability is being assessed.

The University of Queensland will be collecting data on mental disorders other than substance use disorders. Prevalence, incidence, duration, mortality and disability estimates are of interest, as well as the Population Attributable Fraction associated with mental disorders.




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