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Keywords:

  • care;
  • drug and alcohol education;
  • nurse;
  • role support;
  • therapeutic attitude

This study examines the impact of workplace drug and alcohol education on nurses' therapeutic attitude to patients who use illicit drugs. It builds on a study of the generalist nursing workforce in the Australian Capital Territory in 2003, which showed that the interaction of role support with workplace drug and alcohol education facilitated nurses' therapeutic attitude. This paper explores this interaction in detail, showing that workplace education has no independent association with therapeutic attitude and that an effect from education only occurs when nurses have at least a moderate level of role support. Nursing workforce development needs to focus on strategies that provide role support for nurses as they work with this clinically challenging patient group. Without the ready availability of someone in the nurse's clinical field to advise and assist them, efforts to increase nurses' knowledge and skills are wasted