A structured review of reasons for ecstasy use and related behaviours: pointers for future research

Peters, Gjalt-Jorn Ygram; Kok, Gerjo
January 2009
BMC Public Health;2009, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p230
Academic Journal
Background: While the health risks of using ecstasy warrant intervention development, a recent meta-analysis of determinants of ecstasy use identified a number of lacunae in the literature. Specifically, no studies were included that address behaviours other than "using ecstasy" (e.g. "trying out ecstasy" or "ceasing ecstasy use"). However, because meta-analyses aim to integrate study results quantitatively, the resulting rigid exclusion criteria cause many studies to be discarded on the basis of their qualitative methodology. Such qualitative studies may nonetheless provide valuable insights to guide future research. To provide an overview of these insights regarding ecstasy use, the current study summarizes and combines what is known from qualitative and exploratory quantitative literature on ecstasy use. Methods: The databases PsycINFO and MedLine were searched for publications reporting reasons for ecstasy use and related behaviour, and the results were structured and discussed per behaviour and compared over behaviours. Results: Two main categories of reasons were found. The first category comprised reasons to start using ecstasy, use ecstasy, use ecstasy more often, and refrain from ceasing ecstasy use. The second category comprised reasons to refrain from starting to use ecstasy, use less ecstasy, and cease using ecstasy. Reasons for related behaviours within each of these two categories appear to differ, but not as substantially as between the two categories. A large number of reasons that were not yet explored in quantitative research emerged. Conclusion: The current summary and combination of exploratory studies yields useful lists of reasons for each behaviour. Before these lists can inform interventions, however, they beg quantitative verification. Also, similarity of determinant configurations of different behaviours can be assessed by addressing determinants of several behaviours in one study. Another important finding is that meta-analytical integration of the literature may overlook important findings and implications. Thus, qualitative reviews remain useful instruments in setting the research agenda.


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