Ms Kari Lancaster

Postgraduate Research

Research Areas: Viral Hepatitis, Injecting Drug Use & Harm Reduction, Health Promotion Development & Evaluation

Research Topic: Social construction and the evidence-based drug policy endeavour
Supervisor: Prof Carla Treloar

Kari Lancaster commenced her PhD in Semester 1, 2013, with the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre and is co-supervised by Professor Carla Treloar (UNSW Centre for Social Research in Health) and Professor Alison Ritter (UNSW National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre).

Kari is based at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre where she works as part of the multi-disciplinary Drug Policy Modelling Program aiming to improve Australian drug policy by generating new evidence, translating that evidence into policy-relevant information, studying how policy actually gets made and evaluating policy processes. Since joining the Drug Policy Modelling Program in 2009, she has undertaken research investigating policy processes and media reporting on illicit drugs. Research projects include investigating strategic advocacy processes in the establishment of the Australian Capital Territory Overdose Prevention and Management Program, analysis of the emergence of methamphetamine as a policy issue in Australia, and measuring research influence on drug policy. She has also collaborated with the Australian Injecting & Illicit Drug Users League to investigate how people who use drugs perceive drug policy, and also the Australian National Council on Drugs to explore young people’s ideas about responding to alcohol and other drug problems. Recently, Kari has undertaken research examining problematisation and how drug policy problems are represented and constructed through policy.

Kari is a member of the international editorial board of Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy.

Research thesis

‘Evidence-based drug policy’ has become the catch-cry of the field. A growing literature has been dedicated to better realising the goal of evidence-based drug policy: to maximise the use of research to help answer the question of ‘what works’. Alternative accounts conceptualise policy activity as an ambiguous and contested process, and the role of evidence as only marginally influential. Multiple participants jostle for influence and seek to define what may be regarded as a policy problem, how it may be addressed, who may speak, and what knowledge(s) may be brought to bear. The question posited in this PhD thesis is whether the conceptual shift offered by thinking about policy activity as a process of social construction may be valuable for beginning to explore different perspectives of the evidence-based drug policy endeavour. Within a constructionist account of policy, what counts as valid ‘evidence’ will always be a constructed notion within a dynamic system, based on the privileging and silencing of participants and discourse, and the contestation of those many positions and perspectives. The social construction account shifts our focus from the inherent value of ‘evidence’ for addressing ‘problems’ to the ways in which policy knowledge is made valid, by whom, and in what contexts. Social construction provides a framework for critically analysing the ways in which ‘policy-relevant knowledge’ may not be a stable concept but rather one which is constructed through the policy process, and, through a process of validation, is rendered useful. We have limited knowledge in the drug policy field about how this happens; how ambiguity about the problems to be addressed, which voices should be heard, and what activities may be appropriate is contested and managed. By unpicking the assumptions which underlie how problems are constructed, and how different knowledge(s) come to bear on policy, we may see avenues for reform which may not at present seem obvious.

An empirical, multiple-case study design (comparing three drug policy issues: peer administered naloxone; extended distribution of injecting equipment; and recovery drug policy) will be utilised to examine these questions.

Publications

Journal articles

Lancaster, K. (2014). Social construction and the evidence-based drug policy endeavour. International Journal of Drug Policy. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2014.01.002.

Lancaster, K., & Ritter, A. (2014). Making change happen: a case study of the successful establishment of a peer-administered naloxone program in one Australian jurisdiction. International Journal of Drug Policy. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2014.02.003.

Lancaster, K., Sutherland, R., & Ritter, A. (2014). Examining the opinions of people who use drugs towards drug policy in Australia. Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy, 21(2), 93-101.

Lancaster, K., Ritter, A., & Colebatch, H. (2014). Problems, policy and politics: making sense of Australia's ‘ice epidemic’. Policy Studies, 35(2), 147-171.

Lancaster, K., & Ritter, A. (2014). Examining the construction and representation of drugs as a policy problem in Australia's National Drug Strategy documents 1985 to 2010. International Journal of Drug Policy, 25(1), 81-87.

Ritter, A., & Lancaster, K. (2013). Illicit drugs, policing and the evidence-based policy paradigm. Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice, 9(4), 457-472.

Lancaster, K., & Hughes, C. E. (2013.) Buzzed, broke, but not busted: How young Australians perceive the consequences of using illicit drugs. Youth Studies Australia, 32(1), 19-28,

Lancaster, K., Ritter, A., & Stafford, J. (2013) Public opinion and drug policy in Australia: engaging the ‘affected community’. Drug and Alcohol Review, 32(1), 60-66.

Ritter, A., & Lancaster, K. (2013). Measuring research influence on drug policy: A case example of two epidemiological monitoring systems. International Journal of Drug Policy, 24(1), 30-37.

Lancaster, K., Hughes, C. E., Chalmers, J., & Ritter, A. (2012). More than problem-solving: Critical reflections on the ‘problematisation’ of alcohol-related violence in Kings Cross. Drug and Alcohol Review, 31(7), 925-927.

Lancaster, K., Hughes, C. E., & Spicer, B. (2012). Media ownership and content diversity: reporting of illicit drug issues in NSW, VIC, ACT and WA major metropolitan daily newspapers. Australian Journalism Review, 34(1), 51-64.

Lancaster, K., Hughes, C. E., & Spicer, B. (2012). News media consumption amongst young Australians: Patterns of use and attitudes towards media reporting. Media International Australia, 143(May), 16-27.

Lancaster, K., Hughes, C. E., Spicer, B., Matthew-Simmons, F., & Dillon, P. (2011). Illicit drugs and the media: Models of media effects for use in drug policy research. Drug and Alcohol Review, 30(4), 397-402.

Hughes, C. E., Lancaster, K., & Spicer, B. (2011). How do Australian news media depict illicit drug issues? An analysis of print media reporting across and between illicit drugs, 2003-2008. International Journal of Drug Policy, 22(4), 285-291.

Hughes, C. E., Spicer, B., & Lancaster, K. (2011). Young people’s perceptions of and engagement with news media reporting on illicit drug issues: An Australian study. Current Issues in Criminal Justice, 23(2), 145-161.

Books and book chapters

Ritter, A., & Lancaster, K. (2013). Policy models and influences on policy processes. Chapter 5 in Ritter, Hamilton & King (Eds) Drug Use in Australian Society. Oxford University Press.

Reports

Ritter, A., Berends, L., Chalmers, J., Hull, P., Lancaster, K., & Gomez, M. (2014). New Horizons: The review of alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia. Final report submitted to the Commonwealth Department of Health. Unpublished manuscript. Sydney: National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Australia.

Lancaster, K., Ritter, A., & Matthew-Simmons, F. (2013). Young people’s ideas about responding to alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, Final report submitted to the ANCD. Unpublished manuscript. Sydney: National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Australia.

Ritter, A., Lancaster, K., Grech, K., & Reuter, P. (2011). Monograph No. 21: An assessment of illicit drug policy in Australia (1985 to 2010): Themes and trends. DPMP Monograph Series. Sydney: National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

Chalmers, J., Lancaster, K., King, T., & Ritter, A. (2011). Pharmacy participation in NSW Opioid Treatment Program: Options paper. A report prepared for NSW Health. Sydney: National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

Hughes, C., Spicer, B., Lancaster, K., Matthew-Simmons, F., & Dillon, P. (2010). Monograph No. 19: Media reporting on illicit drugs in Australia: Trends and impacts on youth attitudes to illicit drug use. DPMP Monograph Series. Sydney: National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

Peer reviewed conference papers

Lancaster, K., Hughes, C. E., Spicer, B., Matthew-Simmons, F., & Dillon, P. (2011). Curiosity killed the M-Cat: an examination of illicit drugs and the media. Proceedings of the 2010 Australian and New Zealand Critical Criminology Conference. Institute of Criminology, The University of Sydney.

Other output

Hughes, C., Spicer, B., Lancaster, K., Matthew-Simmons, F., & Dillon, P. (2010). Bulletin No. 20: Drugs in the Australian news media: Trends and impacts on youth attitudes to illicit drug use. DPMP Bulletin Series. Sydney: National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre.

Hughes, C., Lancaster, K, Matthew-Simmons, F., & Dillon, P. (2010). News values. Druglink, (Sep/Oct), 16-17.

Hughes, C., Lancaster, K. Spicer, B., Matthew-Simmons, F., & Dillon, P. (2010). Youth, drugs and the media: Creating attitude. Of Substance, 8(3), 16-17.

Presentations

Lancaster, K. (2014, August). Social construction and the evidence-based drug policy endeavour. Paper presented at the Inaugural Postgraduate Research Symposium: Where the marginal matters—Strengthening trans-disciplinary connections in postgraduate health research on sex, drugs and risk, UNSW Australia, Sydney.

Lancaster, K., Ritter, A., Santana, L., & Madden, A. (2013, December). Public opinion and drug policy: engaging the ‘affected community’. Paper presented at the 11th Dangerous Consumptions Colloquium, University of Western Sydney.

Lancaster, K. (2013, October). Examining the opinions of people who use drugs towards drug policy in Australia. Invited presentation at the ‘Drug Policy and You’ Symposium, NSW Users and AIDS Association, Sydney.

Lancaster, K. (2013, August). Examining the construction and representation of drugs as a policy problem in Australia’s National Drug Strategy documents, 1985-2010. Presentation at National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre Seminar Series, UNSW Australia, Sydney.

Lancaster, K., & Ritter, A. (2012, November). A Conservative Shift in Drug Policy (?): Evidence and Implications. Paper presented at APSAD 2012, Melbourne.

Lancaster, K., Ritter, A., & Colebatch, H. (2012, October). Problems, policy and politics: making sense of Australia’s ‘ice epidemic’. Presentation at National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre Seminar Series, UNSW Australia, Sydney.

Lancaster, K., Ritter, A. and Colebatch, H. (2012, March). Problems, policy and politics: making sense of Australia’s ‘ice epidemic’. Drug Policy Modelling Program Symposium, UNSW Australia, Sydney.

Lancaster, K. and Ritter, A. (2011, November). Public opinion and drug policy: engaging the ‘affected community’. Paper presented at APSAD 2011, Hobart. 

Lancaster, K. and Ritter, A. (2011, October). Public opinion and drug policy: engaging the ‘affected community’. Drug Policy Modelling Program Team Meeting, UNSW Australia, Sydney.

Lancaster, K. and Ritter, A. (2011, July). Voices in drug policy: Analysing the Australian drug policy landscape. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre Seminar Series, Sydney.

Hughes, C., Lancaster, K., Spicer, B., Matthew-Simmons, F., and Dillon, P. (2011, May). Read all about it: The impact of news media on Australian youth attitudes to drugs. Paper presented at the 6th International Drugs and Young People Conference, Melbourne.

Lancaster, K. and Ritter, A. (2011, March). Voices in drug policy: Analysing the Australian drug policy landscape. Drug Policy Modelling Program Symposium, Sydney.

Lancaster, K, Hughes, C, Spicer, B, Matthew-Simmons & Dillon, P. (2010, November). Stop the Press! Reporting the trends & dominant portrayals of illicit drugs in the Australian media, 2003 – 2008. Paper presented at APSAD, Canberra.

Hughes, C. and Lancaster, K. (2010, November). Media: The new battleground for the alcohol and drug sector. Presentation to NSW Users and AIDS Association, Sydney.

Hughes, C. and Lancaster, K. (2010, November). Media: The new battleground for the alcohol and drug sector. Presentation to NSW Health, Sydney.

Hughes, C. and Lancaster, K. (2010, November). Youth, drugs and media: patterns of media consumption and perceptions of reporting of illicit drugs in the Australian news media. Paper presented at Communications Policy & Research Forum, Sydney.

Ritter, A., and Lancaster, K. (2010, October) Influencing drug policy: an examination of the role of the IDRS and EDRS. Presented to the National Drug Trends Conference, Sydney.

Hughes, C., Spicer, B., Lancaster, K., Matthew-Simmons, F. and Dillon, P. (2010, September). Media: The new battleground for the alcohol and drug sector. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre Seminar Series, Sydney.

Lancaster, K. (2010, August). Drugs and politics in the Australian election cycle. Drug Policy Modelling Program Team Meeting, Sydney.

Lancaster, K., Hughes, C., Spicer, B., Matthew-Simmons, F., and Dillon, P. (2010, July) Curiosity killed the M-cat: An examination of illicit drugs and the media. Presented to the Australian and New Zealand Critical Criminology Conference. University of Sydney, Sydney.

Dillon, P., Hughes, C. Lancaster, K., Spicer, B., & Matthew-Simmons, F. (2010, June). Australian media report on drugs. Presentation at the 6th International Conference on Nightlife, Substance Use and Related Health Issues (Club Health), Zurich, Switzerland.