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Example of university implementation of UPC

Objective: Comprehensive bachelor's, master's, and doctorate-level curricula of Addiction Studies (Addictology) were developed and implemented at Charles University (First Faculty of Medicine) between 2003 and 2012. This Prague model combines three evidence-based approaches to addressing substance use - prevention, treatment, and public health - into a balanced professionalised discipline. Graduates from this programme are licensed by the State Authority as addictology, a regulated profession in the Czech Republic. Professionals with these degrees are recognised as healthcare professionals, can perform directly in the field and can be contracted by health insurance companies. In 2016, it was decided to integrate the Universal Prevention Curriculum (UPC) into these programmes of study. The UPC was developed by a group of prevention researchers from the United States. This article describes the technical steps involved when adapting the UPC into an established university degree programme. We describe the requirements needed for successful implementation and reaccreditation. Finally, we examine both barriers and enhancers of the adoption of UPC as a university programme.

Methods: A qualitative process evaluation study was conducted on the activities carried out in 2017-2018, demarcated by a successful university accreditation of the new curricula combining the original Prague model and the UPC curriculum. Field records, observation methods, official documents, curricular documents, syllabuses, content analysis, and thematic analysis were used for this process.

Results: We identified three clusters of issues and challenges during the adaptation and implementation process: technical (developing a new credit scheme, adopting new terminology using local and culture-specific examples, and cancelling, establishing, and/or fusing particular courses, identifying some critical issues for any practical implementation of the UPC); teaching staff-related (team work, involving motivated and qualified staff for moving from a national to an international perspective); and content and contextual (the conflict between different theoretical perspectives such as public health vs. mental health and drug use prevention vs. risk behaviour prevention).

Conclusion: The adaptation of the UPC had a significant impact on study profiles and competencies. Such an implementation necessarily requires a team of staff members with sufficient capacities to be able to coordinate the process, facilitating each step and supervising it. The current adaptation of the UPC involved specific merging procedures to fit in with existing courses and emphasising an international perspective. This process opened a national discussion about the implementation of the UPC in the system of life-long education programmes and training. Beginning in September 2019, when the first group of students will attend this new model of Addictology studies, we will continue our evaluation of the implementation process and the factors that played a role in either hindering or supporting the implementation. The findings from this evaluation will be used to make adjustments to the curriculum.

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