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Dr Metrebian receives EMCDDA Award 2015

Dr Nicola Metrebian of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), and her co-author Dr Tim Weaver of Middlesex University, have received a 2015 European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) Scientific Paper Award for their publication in The Lancet, which investigated methods to improve hepatitis B vaccination rates in people undergoing treatment for heroin dependence.

Their entry was one of five winning papers judged on scientific significance, EU policy relevance, originality and creativity, and clarity and quality of writing. The winning authors received their awards at the fifth annual paper award ceremony in Lisbon on 23 September and hosted by EMCDDA.

Dr Nicola Metrebian said, ‘I am honoured to receive this award, along with my co-author Dr Tim Weaver, on behalf of all the authors of this publication. This publication reports on findings from a study of contingency management and its use in encouraging the completion of hepatitis B vaccination programmes among those receiving opiate drug treatment. We hope our findings will inform policy and practice in this area’.

Injecting drug-users are a major risk group for infection and transmission of hepatitis B and thus an important target population for hepatitis B vaccination. Hepatitis B vaccination is offered routinely in community drug treatment clinics but the completion rate is low. The multi-site cluster randomised trial demonstrated that modest financial incentives delivered in routine clinical practice significantly improved adherence to, and completion of, hepatitis B vaccination for patients receiving opiate substitution treatment, transforming completion rates within a month from 9 per cent (no financial incentives) to 45 per cent (fixed incentive instalments) and 49 per cent (graduated incentive instalments).

Professor John Strang said: 'The EMCDDA Scientific Paper Award is a well-deserved recognition of both the importance of the topic and also of the quality of this cluster randomised clinical trial. Having completed this first trial, Dr Metrebian and her team are now in the final stages of the next CM trial and have recruited nearly 600 opiate addicts in treatment into this new CM trial – hopefully the basis of the next high-impact paper! My congratulations and thanks to Dr Metrebian and all of the research and clinical colleagues and patients whose participation is crucial to making such studies possible.'

The paper’s peer review commentary stated: ‘It is hard to think of a study that is more definitive, ostensibly valid, practical, or relevant to public health.’

The study was part of a National Institute of Health Research Programme grant awarded to South London and the Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) to develop an evidence base for contingency management in UK addiction services. The research programme is led by Professor John Strang in collaboration with King's College London and Imperial College London (Dr Tim Weaver) and University College London (Professor Stephen Pilling).

Notes to editors

Weaver, T et al. Use of contingency management incentives to improve completion of hepatitis B vaccination in people undergoing treatment for heroin dependence: a cluster randomised trial (2014) The Lancet. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60196-3

For further media information please contact Jack Stonebridge, Press Officer, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London on +44 (0) 20 7848 5377 or