Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Support not punishment is the key to tackling substance abuse and addiction among nurses, study suggests

Date:
January 26, 2011
Source:
Wiley - Blackwell
Summary:
As many as 10 to 20% of nurses and nursing students may have substance abuse and addiction problems, but the key to tackling this difficult issue - and protecting public safety - is support and treatment, not punishment, experts say. Researchers have now recommended six key points that could be built into alternative-to-dismissal (ATD) strategies after reviewing the latest research and professional guidance from countries such as the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

As many as ten to 20 per cent of nurses and nursing students may have substance abuse and addiction problems, but the key to tackling this difficult issue -- and protecting public safety -- is support and treatment, not punishment. That is the key message in a paper in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

Related Articles


Researchers have recommended six key points that could be built into alternative-to-dismissal (ATD) strategies after reviewing the latest research and professional guidance from countries such as the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

They believe that ATD programmes provide greater patient safety, as they enable managers to remove nurses from the work environment quickly, unlike traditional disciplinary procedures that can take months, if not years. ATD programmes also provide non-judgemental support and treatment that encourages nurses to seek help and improve their chances of staying in the profession.

"Addiction among nurses has been recognised by professionals in the field for over a hundred years" says lead author Dr Todd Monroe from the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, Tennessee, USA. "While research consistently reports incidence rates of 10 to 15 per cent, some studies suggest that this could be as high as 20 per cent.

"Doctors and nurses are only human and face the same problems as everyone else, which can include chemical dependency. The fact that they work in a highly stressful environment with easy access to powerful drugs can expose them to an increased risk of substance misuse and abuse. They are expected to show compassion when caring for patients who are alcohol and/or drug dependent and they should extend the same compassion to colleagues struggling with chemical dependency, which is an illness."

Research suggests that ATD programmes help many nurses recover from addiction, reduce the chance of dismissal and return to work under strict monitoring guidelines, with random substance checks, support and meetings with managers and regulators. ATD programmes can also lead to a 75 per cent reduction in practical problems, like obtaining liability health insurance after disciplinary action, and they usually help nurses to re-enter the workforce.

"ATD programmes appear to be the best way to protect patients and retain nurses at a time when the profession is facing serious shortages of experienced professionals" says Dr Monroe.

The review covers nearly three decades of research papers and professional guidance from nursing regulators and brings together a number of previous studies by Dr Monroe on substance abuse policies in the nursing profession.

"We believe that the incidence of substance abuse among nurses, and especially nursing students, is both under-researched and under-reported, partly because it is considered taboo among many healthcare providers and nursing school faculty and staff" he says.

"Poor or ineffective policies that mandate punitive action are more likely to endanger the public, as they make it more difficult for impaired nurses or students to seek help.

"That is why we support ATD strategies that motivate individuals to voluntarily seek assistance for their dependency or encourage colleagues to urge them to seek the help they need."

Dr Monroe teamed up with Dr Heidi Kenaga, from The University of Tennessee Health Science Center, to come up with six key points that they believe should be incorporated into ATD programmes developed by regulators, educators and healthcare facilties:

1) Promoting open communication by discussing substance abuse in healthcare and nursing education settings.

2) Encouraging an atmosphere where people feel they can report problems confidentially.

3) Providing information about the signs and symptoms of impairment.

4) Conducting mock interventions to help people feel less fearful or uncomfortable about approaching a colleague or fellow student about suspected chemical dependency.

5) Inviting ATD experts to speak to hospital or school administrators.

6) Participating in scholarly forums about addiction among healthcare providers.

"We believe that these key points will help to transform perceptions of substance abuse among nurses, so that they are seen as a medical disorder requiring treatment, rather than a moral failing" says Dr Monroe.

"There is a long history of substance abuse in the medical profession and ignoring the problem may perpetuate fear, anxiety, poor outcomes for the nurses and risks for the people they care for.

"Providing early intervention and assistance is essential to help nurses and nursing students to recover from an addictive disorder. And providing a confidential, non-punitive atmosphere of support may well be a life-saving step for nurses and those in their care."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley - Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Todd Monroe, Heidi Kenaga. Don’t ask don’t tell: substance abuse and addiction among nurses. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 2011; 20 (3-4): 504 DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2010.03518.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley - Blackwell. "Support not punishment is the key to tackling substance abuse and addiction among nurses, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110126081519.htm>.
Wiley - Blackwell. (2011, January 26). Support not punishment is the key to tackling substance abuse and addiction among nurses, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110126081519.htm
Wiley - Blackwell. "Support not punishment is the key to tackling substance abuse and addiction among nurses, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110126081519.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins