Dr Anna Williams
BSc MSc PhD
Anna Williams graduated as a psychologist in Brazil, where she also completed her Masters Degree in Psychiatry. Her master’s project focused on the development and delivery of psycho-educational interventions for crack-cocaine users from shantytowns. She also gained clinical experience working as a psychologist assistant in an inpatient unit for alcohol and drug treatment. She completed her PhD at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, supervised by Professor John Strang and Dr. John Marsden. Her PhD centered on the prevention of fatal heroin overdose by extending training and take-home naloxone to the users’ family and social network. The initial phase of this work involved testing the feasibility of the proposal, developing guidelines for the delivery of overdose training amongst carers and family members and developing valid and reliable measures to test overdose management knowledge and attitudes. The final study tested the benefits of overdose training among this population using a randomised trial design. She is currently coordinating a project funded by the NTA, extending overdose and naloxone training to ethnic minorities and HMPs.
The topic of my PhD Thesis was about providing and testing overdose training linked to naloxone provision to family members of heroin users. An effective way of preventing a fatal overdose is training potential witnesses on how to manage an opiate intoxication. Overdose training among drug users has already proved to be a successful method of saving many lives. Friends and Family member are also likely to witness overdoses and could benefit from training.
The first study aimed to evaluate the psychometric properties of two new instruments to assess knowledge and attitudes on overdose management. Face and content validity have been evaluated by consulting professionals in the addiction filed and conducting indepth interviews with friends and family members of heroin users. To examine construct validity, the scales were administered to 42 family members and 56 professionals. Additionally, two valid instruments which measure aspects of knowledge and attitudes have been administered and comparisons were made between these and the new measures. To test the stability of the instruments over time, participants were asked to repeat the questionnaires a week later. Content validity analyses produced three domains for the attitudes scale (competence, concerns and readiness) and four domains for the knowledge scale (risks, signs, actions and naloxone). The scale also proved to be reliable internally and over time. The valid instruments are now going to be used in the second stage of the project: a trial to evaluate the efficacy of overdose training for this population.
The second study aims at evaluating the short-term benefits of an intervention to train family members of opioid users on overdose management and compared to a control intervention. To accomplish that a two groups- randomized controlled trial with three, six and twelve months follow-up is being conducted. Following baseline measures, 128 subjects will be randomly assigned to either receive group-based training intervention (experimental group) or to an information-only intervention (control group). Both groups will be re-tested immediately after receiving the interventions and three, six and twelve months later to determine the short-term effects of the intervention on overdose management-related knowledge, skills and attitudes. The sample is being recruited through SLAM Addiction Services, open-access needle exchange programmes and community support groups for family members.
A full list of Anna's publications can be found on the King's Research Portal.
Anna is a member of the Diversity & Inclusion Departmental Working Group.