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SMAD. Revista eletrônica saúde mental álcool e drogas

versión On-line ISSN 1806-6976

SMAD, Rev. Eletrônica Saúde Mental Álcool Drog. (Ed. port.) vol.17 no.3 Ribeirão Preto jul./set. 2021 



Perfil, producción y evaluación de participantes de Américas y África en una especialización en drogas*



Margarita Antonia Villar LuisI; Alisséia Guimarães LemesII; Deivson Wendell da Costa LimaIII; Liliane Santos da SilvaI; Vagner Ferreira do NascimentoIV

IUniversidade de São Paulo, Escola de Enfermagem de Ribeirão Preto, PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre for Nursing Research Development, Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil
IIUniversidade Federal de Mato Grosso, Campus Universitário do Araguaia, Barra do Garças, MT, Brazil
IIIUniversidade do Estado do Rio Grande do Norte, Faculdade de Enfermagem, Mossoró, RN, Brazil
IVUniversidade do Estado de Mato Grosso, Campus Tangará da Serra, Tangará da Serra, MT, Brazil

Corresponding Author




OBJECTIVE: to identify the profile, production and evaluation of professionals from the Americas and Africa in Specialization Courses on drugs.
METHOD: a retrospective and documentary study, based on secondary data, using the registration forms of all versions of the Specialization Courses to train researchers in alcohol and other psychoactive drugs (2002 to 2015), promoted by the Ribeirão Preto Nursing School, University of Sao Paulo.
RESULTS: a total of 258 individuals participated, 62% from South America and 38% from North America, Central America and Portuguese Africa. The majority were female (77.0%), aged 30 to 59 years old (81.8%), with a master's degree (51.2%), from the health sciences area (79.5%), and working as university professors (82.6%). Of the participants, 176 completed the course with publications and submissions of scientific papers. In the final assessment, most reported satisfaction with the course and that they would recommend it to other professionals.
FINAL CONSIDERATIONS: the study presented the results of a successful experience, organized and offered by Brazilian Nursing, in the training of researchers, providing the expansion and dissemination of scientific knowledge about the drug phenomenon for more than a decade, both in the national territory and in other American and African countries.

Descriptors: Professional Training; Education, Graduate; Research Personnel; Psychiatric Nursing; Mental Health.




In its worldwide report on drugs, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) points out that, in 2018, nearly 269 million people worldwide reported having used psychoactive drugs at least once in the previous year. And it is estimated that more than 35 million suffer from some disorder triggered by consumption, with limitations on access and availability to treatment services(1).

This increasing consumption increases some social problems, such as violence, accidents and risky behaviors, as well as it leads to chemical dependence(2-3). This generates important repercussions in the administrative, legal and public policy spheres, such as health, education and justice(4). Thus, it is necessary to promote actions that consider the person and their relationship with the drug, with attention to the singular and contextual aspects.

It is known that intervention at school and academic level already reveals a promising path in favor of reducing consumption and/or increasing awareness about drugs and their effects(5-7); however, there is a need for training the professionals who experience the phenomenon of drugs in their daily lives, especially those who work in the health field, whether in the process of training/graduation or in the condition of a professional inserted in the services that meet these demands(8), as recommended by Law No. 11,343/2006, which governs the public policy on drugs(9).

To this end, strategies have been established in conjunction with universities and government agencies, aiming at strengthening actions that promote investments in research and training in the area of alcohol and/or other drugs(10-12). Even so, there are many technical and scientific transformations and innovations to be implemented in this context(13), as practical approaches to people's vulnerability to drug use and abuse have not advanced significantly(4), a circumstance that drives the creation of training proposals in the area.

Therefore, the Ribeirão Preto Nursing School at the University of São Paulo (Escola de Enfermagem de Ribeirão Preto da Universidade de São Paulo, EERP-USP) in partnership with the Organization of American States (OAS), the Inter-American Commission for the Control of American States (Comissão Interamericana para o Controle dos Estados Americanos, CICAD) and the National Department of Policies About Drugs (Secretaria Nacional de Políticas Sobre Drogas, SENAD) offered the lato sensu postgraduate course to train researchers in alcohol and other psychoactive drugs. This course aimed at disseminating knowledge about the drug phenomenon and at stimulating and expanding scientific production at national and international levels, as well as enabling exchanges of experiences between participants in the health area and related fields, from different countries and continents.

The potential and scope of courses of this nature can influence public policies and support new care practices(14), mainly because in various contexts of Nursing education (graduation), the workload of disciplines focused on mental health and psychiatry, and which contemplate drug use and chemical dependence, is decreasing over the years(15).

Therefore, it is fundamental to better understand the profile of the professionals who work in the training and research network on alcohol and other drugs, and who directly or indirectly also participate in the health care process for this population(16). Furthermore, the Ministry of Health (Ministério da Saúde, MS) itself has been encouraging continuous evaluations of graduates, work processes and of teaching-learning of undergraduate and graduate courses (lato and strictosensu)(17). That said, the objective of this study was to identify the profile, production and evaluation of professionals from the Americas and Africa in Specialization Courses on drugs.



This is a retrospective, documentary and quantitative study, based on secondary data. It was carried out from August 2019 to June 2020, from the registration forms of the nine versions of the Training Course for Researchers in Alcohol and Other Psychoactive Drugs (2002 to 2015), completed by the participants and the course coordinators at the time of registration (sociodemographic aspects, training profile and profession); final course evaluation tools (course content, material, support staff and general course evaluation); and reports sent to the institutions that provided financial and logistical support to the participants (scientific production).

Data collection was carried out in the collection of the "Stress, alcohol and drugs" research laboratory at the EERP-USP, with the authorization of the coordinator responsible for the course editions. All the files available in the collection were included in the study, with 258 registration forms, 219 evaluation forms and nine final course reports.

After data collection was completed, the data were double-typed in an electronic spreadsheet of the Microsoft Excel 2013 program, which were later compared in Data Compare. Subsequently, the database was imported into STATA version 13.1, with descriptive statistical analysis, with presentation in absolute and relative numbers, through graphs and tables. The data related to the thematic axis of the scientific production generated from the course were grouped by the central area of the works.

The study respected all the ethical aspects in research, in accordance with Resolutions 466/12 and 510/2016 of the National Health Council (Conselho Nacional de Saúde, CNS), with approval from the Committee of Ethics in Research with Human Beings of the EERP-USP.



Course organization

The Training Course for Researchers in Alcohol and Other Psychoactive Drugs offered by the EERP-USP, through the Department of Psychiatric Nursing, lato sensu modality, had nine editions, between 2002 and 2015.

Each edition of the course took place over a period of 12 months, with a total workload of 600 hours, structured in four modules, the first three at a distance (450h) and the last one in person (150h), which were held at the EERP/USP facilities. In module I, it addressed the specifics of using the platform and searching for scientific literature; in module II, the theme addressed was psychoactive drugs in contemporary societies; in module III, the research methodology regarding the phenomenon of psychoactive drugs was discussed; and module IV, in person, addressed the research projects applied to the drug phenomenon.

The course was aimed at university professors and professionals working in the Ministries of Education, Health and Justice and who, in addition, had some knowledge or experience in research or who worked in areas related to the use of licit and illicit drugs, residing in American and Portuguese Africa countries.

For the selection of the participants, the EERP-USP and the SENAD disclosed the stages of enrollment in the course among the institutions electronically on official pages and via contact by telephone and email of managers.

The theoretical contents and exercises included in the course were prepared in Portuguese and in Spanish. Among the nine editions already offered of this course, there were 258 people, distributed between 2002 and 2015, with greater participation in the years 2005 (33) and 2015 (40).

Characterization of the participants

Of the total participants, 62% belonged to countries on the South America continent, and the other 38% is added among countries from North America, Central America and Portuguese Africa. As for the distribution by countries, most of them were individuals from Brazil (48), Mexico (46), Colombia (20), Chile (17), Peru (17) and Nicaragua (15). The countries of the African continent, on the other hand, have little participation in the course editions (11) (Figure 1).

Table 1 highlights the sociodemographic aspects of the course participants. The majority were female (77.0%), aged between 30 and 59 years old (81.8%), and with a Master's degree (51.2%).



Regarding the training and profession of the participants, following the classification of the training area proposed by the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Level Personnel (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior, CAPES), it is highlighted in Table 2 that 79.5% of the professionals were in the health sciences area, with training in Nursing (67.8%) and in Medicine (9.3%); while 8.9% belonged to the humanities area, with training in Psychology (8.1%) and in Pedagogy (6.2%).



As for the institutional bond, 84.5% were university workers and 11.2% came from government agencies. Most of them worked as university professors (82.5%) (Table 2).

Scientific production of the participants

One of the course's proposals was to encourage the participants to disseminate their scientific research generated from disciplines and professional experiences. Thus, it is possible to verify that a significant part of the participants (n=176) published at least one paper (n=166) or submitted manuscripts to Brazilian and international journals (n=10). As for the scientific production, the thematic axes emerged from the grouping according to the central focus of the papers, with the predominant axes being "Drug use" (36.3%), "Health prevention" (21.5%) and "Beliefs related to using drugs" (19.0%) (Table 3).



The journals selected by the researchers were in the Nursing area (92.6%) or in other journals (7.4%); focusing on publication in A1 (60.8%), B2 (10.2%), B1 (3.0%), B4 (2.4%), A2 (1.8%) and B3 and B5 (2.0% both) journals, and another 33 articles published in books (19.8%). Most of the participants published or submitted their manuscripts in Brazilian (95.7%), Spanish (3.1%), Costa Rican and Colombian (0.6% each) magazines; in Spanish (62.0%), Portuguese (25.3%) and English (12.7%).

Evaluation of the participants

In all editions of the courses, the participants were asked to voluntarily complete the course evaluation after its completion. Of the 258 participants from all editions held (2002-2015), 219 evaluated the course, representing 85% adherence.

As for the evaluation of the participants, 88% were satisfied with the development of the course, be it in relation to its duration (88%), to the equipment offered or used (88%) and/or the assistance of the support staff (95%). A total of 94% of the participants would recommend the course to other professionals (Table 4).



In a complementary manner, when answering about funds received, it was found that few had substantial financial support for the development of research studies, mainly participants from Brazil and Mexico. Others received limited local or international aid such as the Pan American Health Organization (Argentina, Nicaragua, and Honduras). The participants from Chile and Colombia reported not having financial support, and those from other countries did not respond to this.



The training course for researchers in alcohol and other drugs, at a specialization level, had a financial grant of the institutions involved for local funding (Brazil), with availability of infrastructure and support for development and support for participants (accommodation, food and material consumption) during the in-person phase.

There was greater participation of Brazilians, who probably saw the in-person stage/module in Brazil as feasible and for recognizing the experience and reach of the EERP-USP in the field of Psychiatric Nursing. The low participation of members from other countries possibly occurred due to the difficulty of these professionals in being released from their jobs, to comply with the in-person moment of the course held in Brazil, and to the reduced availability of these institutions in promoting the training of their collaborators.

In the course editions there was predominance of female participants, which can be related to a massive presence of women enrolled in health courses, especially in Nursing(18-20). On the other hand, it is also related to the growth of women in science, in the conquest of important spaces in institutions, and in scientific production(21-22).

The theme addressed in the course (drug use), in addition to being an area of interest to several researchers and being addressed in many training courses in the area of mental health and Nursing(16,23), is found in the daily life of society, including within many professional and academic contexts(24).

Scholars specialized in this theme also point out that the insertion of content related to drug use in Nursing curricula is fundamental, as it can be a strategy to improve the skills of these professionals and the quality of care for drug users seeking assistance, in the most different medical specialties(16,25). Since the high prevalence and the consequences related to the consumption of alcohol and other drugs can be minimized with collective and inter-sectoral work on the basis of training and, in subsequent years, updates and postgraduate studies(23,26).

Another fact to be highlighted is the participation of MSs and PhDs in the editions of this course. This meets the need for the qualification of these professionals, who seek to expand and improve their field of activity and research, whether at the university level, or at all levels of assistance in the health services(27). In addition, multiple skills are increasingly required Nursing professionals that meet the needs of the community, with or without chemical dependences, but that demand attentive and humanized care based on scientific evidence(23,28).

Additionally, qualifications in the area of mental health and psychoactive drugs allow the team to be qualified, since these professionals assume the role of care coordinators in coping with drugs, in the aptitude of specialized care and quality of health education(26) and promote constant reflections on the practices, by means of permanent education(29-30), which also responds to and supplies the needs of the labor market in this sector, attracting and giving employability opportunities to the professionals(31).

In the study, the presence of nurses in all editions of the course indicates the effective participation of Nursing in the field of mental health, whether in the area of teaching or care(32). This great adherence by nurses can be related to the fact that these professionals are better positioned in the identification, monitoring and intervention in people who are at risk for the use of alcohol and other drugs(27). Another aspect can be the need for these professionals to continually keep improving in the face of new approaches and strategies for prevention, promotion, rehabilitation and resocialization(26); in addition to participating in courses of this nature, it has a positive impact on the professionals' behaviors, through the modification of their personal beliefs about drugs(25).

In view of the current scenario, where the number of users in situations of problematic drug use, is increasing, there is a worldwide appeal for the development and strengthening of specialists who collaborate for the development of new technologies and care strategies(33-36). Therefore, the training of these professionals, in the area of alcohol and/or other psychoactive drugs, must also advance in the identification of the types of existing substances, effects and forms of prevention(28). The reception and recognition of the clinical specificities, as well as their life stories, social relationships and the singularities of the user and family must be improved, proposing as a priority to establish autonomy, freedom and awareness on risks/harms, especially on their body and their health, so that it is possible to understand the relationship between person, suffering and the use of these substances(28).

In this sense, the opportunity to bring together professionals from several countries in training on alcohol and/or other drugs in Brazil generated the possibility of knowledge complementarity, due to the positive interaction between different ways of apprehending, assisting and caring for the users. At the same time, it highlighted the potential and scope of courses in this modality in the scientific and educational panorama.

In the scientific field, the course proposed the discovery of evidence, development of skills and products, which stimulated the production and publication of several research studies, based on the participants' experiences, which could contribute to the improvement of the practice in the care of users and in the dynamics of the health professionals' work. Although encouraging an evidence-based professional practice is not a priority in all the health services, the organizations that encourage and invest in this human, political and scientific development are closer to safer and quality practices(37).

In relation to the scientific work generated in the course, interest was mainly noticed in the "drug use" axis. This study theme makes it possible to know the profile of the users and their consumption, create technologies, rethink prevention methods focused on singularities(38) and in psychosocial rehabilitation, at different care levels(39). However, a recent study with graduates from a specialization in family health, predominantly Cuban, pointed out that their productions did not reach 1% on the theme of mental health and correlated areas(40). This reinforces the premise that the direction of a course is closely related to the profile of the participants and the generated production.

Another study revealed that Nursing researchers are part of the precursor group of research and scientific production in the area of drug prevention(41) and are the most present in health specializations in Brazil(16). This approximates the reality found in this study, where these professionals were leaders in the participation and in the volume of the production.

As for the evaluation of the professionals regarding the course, in general, they were satisfied with the content, material, support staff, and in the general evaluation of the course. In 2014, an eight-month course on drug use prevention promoted by the SENAD also had a very positive evaluation by the participants, indicating that the teaching method and strategies used proved to be suitable for the trained population(42). In other trainings in Minas Gerais (BR) on alcohol and other drugs for health and social assistance professionals, despite the positive evaluation of the pedagogical proposal, there were questions about some moments of theoretical emphasis that, according to the participants, appeared detached from the practical realities of the students(32).

In this context, it is understood that the evaluation constitutes a fundamental and potential resource to understand the quality of the teaching-learning process, in addition to the future repercussion in the daily life of these professionals, by beneficially influencing the disposition/availability in the relationship with users and in the search for qualification in the area of psychoactive drugs, consistent with the diagnoses identified. Above all, evaluating the satisfaction of the participants in training courses has been considered a constructive strategy for the learning of faculty and institutions, as well as to support new plans and curricula intended in relation to the course participants, and their sociocultural relevance(43).

The final evaluation or even the feedback that may exist, during the entire trajectory of the participant/student, tends to indicate problems and also the resolution, adjusting the teaching and didactic dynamics employed(17). But, for this to occur, it is indispensable to be impartial in the questions/records, in the environments and opportunities of these assessments, not restricting the participation of any student and potentializing more notes about the course development(44).

In this sense, the evaluation of the participants on the pedagogical proposal of a course must also not only have the character of institutional internal deliberation; it must be included in the final reports of the course and not be restricted to the summary description of data, so that they serve as a basis for new formative proposals(45-46).

As a limitation of the study, the updating of the model of records stands out during the course editions, which hindered collecting data and gathering information. Even so, the study revealed important findings, which will assist other similar human resource training initiatives to work in the field of drugs.


Final Considerations

The study pointed out that, among the course participants, there was prevalence of female researchers, coming from Brazil and Mexico, with professions in the health sciences area, mainly Nursing, and acting as university teachers. Most of the participants produced and published their scientific studies, generated from the course, inside and outside the Brazilian context. At the end of the specialization activities, they were satisfied with the course taken in all aspects.

The knowledge of these particularities revealed some characteristics of the professionals in the area and gaps in their training. It also brought notes to personalize the training processes that range from planning to the development and direction of teaching and learning activities, in search of more reliable proposals to the realities of these professionals. These subsidies may come to improve the planning of this course modality and design in future editions, even more successful, both nationally and internationally, by providing the participants with moments to expand knowledge about the context of drugs, a necessary requirement for the training of researchers in this area.



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Corresponding author:
Alisséia Guimarães Lemes

Received: Oct 5th 2020
Accepted: Dec 12th 2020



Author's contribution
Study concept and design: Margarita Antonia Villar Luis.
Obtaining data: Margarita Antonia Villar Luis, Alisséia Guimarães Lemes.
Data analysis and interpretation: Margarita Antonia Villar Luis, Alisséia Guimarães Lemes, Deivson Wendell Da Costa Lima, Liliane Santos Da Silva, Vagner Ferreira do Nascimento.
Statistical analysis: Alisséia Guimarães Lemes, Margarita Antonia Villar Luis.
Drafting the manuscript: Margarita Antonia Villar Luis, Alisséia Guimarães Lemes, Deivson Wendell Da Costa Lima, Liliane Santos Da Silva, Vagner Ferreira do Nascimento.
Critical review of the manuscript as to its relevant intellectual content: Margarita Antonia Villar Luis, Alisséia Guimarães Lemes, Deivson Wendell Da Costa Lima, Liliane Santos Da Silva, Vagner Ferreira do Nascimento.
All authors approved the final version of the text.
Conflict of interest: the authors have declared that there is no conflict of interest.
* The publication of this article in the Thematic Series "Human Resources in Health and Nursing" is part of Activity 2.2 of Reference Term 2 of the PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre for Nursing Research Development, Brazil.

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