Could a drug-checking service increase intention to use ecstasy at a festival?

Drug Alcohol Rev. 2021 Sep;40(6):974-978. doi: 10.1111/dar.13259. Epub 2021 Mar 7.


Introduction: Calls to provide sanctioned drug-checking (pill testing) at Australian music festivals have been met with resistance from most governments due to concerns that such services would increase use of ecstasy and other drugs. We investigated that concern and used the Theory of Planned Behaviour to examine the determinants of intention to use a drug-checking service.

Methods: Data were collected over a 3-day period at a music festival in Western Australia. Participants (n = 247; 50% male; 52% aged 25-34 years) were presented with three hypothetical pill testing scenarios: no testing provided, onsite testing provided and fixed offsite testing provided.

Results: Neither ecstasy users (n = 212) nor participants who had never used ecstasy (n = 35) reported an increased intention to use ecstasy in scenarios in which drug checking was provided. The combination of attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavioural control predicted intention to use a fixed site drug-checking service, while only subjective norms predicted intention to use an onsite service.

Discussion and conclusions: These data do not support the view that offering a drug-checking service at a festival will result in ecstasy use by people who have never used ecstasy or lead to increased use among people who use ecstasy.

Keywords: MDMA; Theory of Planned Behaviour; drug checking; ecstasy; pill testing.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Female
  • Holidays
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs*
  • Intention
  • Male
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine*


  • Illicit Drugs
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine