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Improving nurses' therapeutic attitude to patients who use illicit drugs: Workplace drug and alcohol education is not enough

Authors

  • Rosemary Ford PhD,

    1. Postgraduate Coordinator, School of Nursing and Midwifery, The Australian Catholic University, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia
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  • Gabriele Bammer PhD,

    1. Professor, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, The Australian National Unversity, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
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  • Niels Becker PhD

    1. Professor of Biostatistics, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
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Rosemary Ford, Australian Catholic University, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Private Bag 4115, Fitzroy MDC, Vic. 3065, Australia. Email: rosemary.ford@acu.edu.au

Abstract

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

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