Patterns of drug use among (ethnic and cultural) minorities PADUMI

Research Period

1 February 2015 – 15 August 2016




Charlotte DE KOCK

Key Words

community based participatory research, ethnic and cultural minorities, patterns of substance use, patterns of care trajectories


Even though attitudes and practices of ethnic minority groups in Belgium have been extensively studied in the last decade, little is known about the prevalence and nature of their substance use (alcohol and illicit drugs). It therefore remains an under-researched topic, especially in Europe (Bashford et al., 2004). One of the main reasons lies in conceptual and methodological issues that complicate research on ethnicity. These issues, combined with the multidimensional nature of drug use, fear of accusations of racism and discrimination, and a general lack of minority ethnic health and social care workers and researchers, have created an environment where the theme of ethnicity, drug use and related service provision has been neglected. A necessary first step towards a holistic approach for these specific populations is to establish accurate information on the extent of drug use and its possible determinants.

This project re-unites a multidisciplinary network (sociology, criminology, special education and social work) that has previously performed the Belspo-funded study on ‘Treatment trajectories of drug users from ethnic minorities’ (ZEMIV-project 2006-2007; Derluyn et al., 2008) - aims to help fill this gap.

The general objectives of this research are:

  • to contribute to a better understanding of the prevalence and nature of drug use among ethnic and cultural minorities (ECM) in Belgium;
  • to unveil the determining factors behind substance use (illicit drugs and alcohol);
  • to increase ECM capacity in raising awareness about drug issues within the participants’ own communities;
  • and to assess the needs of ECM and articulate them with the actors responsible for planning services.

This research consist of four case studies. The target groups of the case studies are the following:

  • The Turkisch community in Gent;
  • The Bulgarian community in Gent;
  • Undocumented migrants in Belgium;
  • The Congolese community in Matonge, Brussels.


We use a community based participatory research design (CBPR). This approach is mainly focused at the development of structures of participation among communities (ethnic and cultural minorities) that are most affected by our object of research (substance use). This participation is realized among key figures from the respective communities on the one hand and representatives of welfare organizations on the other.

The first phase of this research project consists of a literature review regarding the prevalence and nature in ethnic and cultural minorities and the determinants of this use. In the second phase of this research we gather qualitative data in the four target groups (see supra). We make use of semi-structured qualitative interviews (n=100 per case study) with respondents from the target group under study and by making use of snowball and purposive sampling. The last phase of the project most importantly focusses on the dissemination of the research result in the communities, drug treatment and general health care services.

Each of the four case studies consist of four interrelated actors: a community advisory board, a community organization, and academic staff member and group of community researchers (n=15).


  • DE KOCK, C., SCHAMP, J., VANDERPLASSCHEN, W., DECORTE, T., DERLUYN, E., HAUSPIE, B., JACOBS, D. & SACCO, M. (2017). Implementing community-based participatory research in the study of substance use and service utilisation in Eastern European and Turkish communities in Belgium. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, doi: 10.1080/09687637.2017.1282420
  • DE KOCK, C., DECORTE, T., VANDERPLASSCHEN, W., DERLUYN, I. & SACCO, M. (2017). Studying ethnicity, problem substance use and treatment: from epidemiology to social change. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, doi: 10.1080/09687637.2016.1239696
  • DE KOCK, C., DECORTE, T., HAUSPIE, B., DERLUYN, I., VANDERPLASSCHEN, W. & SCHAMP, J. (2017). Een kwalitatieve verkenning van gepercipieerde discriminatie, etnische identiteit, etnisch netwerk en middelengebruik bij personen met een Turkse en Oost-Europese migratieachtergrond in Gent. SOCIOLOGOS. 38(1)
  • DE KOCK, C., DECORTE, T., VANDERPLASSCHEN, W., SCHAMP, J., DERLUYN, I., HAUSPIE, B., JACOBS, D., SACCO, M. (2016) Substance use among people with a migration background: a community based participatory research (CBPR). Garant-Maklu: Appeldoorn / Antwerpen.
  • DE KOCK, C. (2016). Community based participatory research (CBPR) bij etnische minderheden. In Decorte & Zaitch (eds.) (2016). Kwaliatieve methoden en technieken in de criminologie. Leuven: Acco.
  • DE KOCK, C. DECORTE, T., VANDERPLASSCHEN, W., SCHAMP, J., DERLUYN, I., HAUSPIE, B., JACOBS, D., SACCO, M. Community Based Participatory Research in de studie van druggebruik bij etnische minderheden. Panopticon. (37)3, pp. 226-23.
  • DE KOCK, C., DECORTE, T., VANDERPLASSCHEN, W., SCHAMP, J., DERLUYN, I., HAUSPIE, B., JACOBS, D., SACCO, M. (2015). Patterns of substance use in ethnic and cultural minorities (PADUMI): A community based participatory research (CBPR). Engage 2020: Engaging society in responsible research and innovation (Brussels, Belgium), Abstracts.
  • DE KOCK, C., & DECORTE, T. (2015). Studying ethnicity and substance use: ontological considerations and methodological implications. Paper presented at the 1st Conference Ethnic minority youth: drugs, gangs and street life (Aarhus, Denmark), Proceedings.