Objective: To explore the knowledge and attitudes of registered nurses employed in perinatal nursing and to determine the relationships between selected demographic variables and registered nurses' knowledge and attitudes toward perinatal substance abuse.
Design: Descriptive, using a convenience sample.
Setting: Perinatal units at 10 hospitals on the west coast of Florida.
Participants: 392 registered nurses employed on perinatal units.
Main outcome Measure: Identification of knowledge and attitudes of registered nurses toward perinatal substance abuse, using the 34-item adapted Attitudes About Drug Abuse in Pregnancy (AADAP) questionnaire.
Results: Knowledge scores for the sample ranged from 6 to 18 (M= 12.14) out of a possible score of 20. Attitude scores ranged from 16 to 56 (M = 35.81) out of a possible range of 14 to 70. Scores at the lower end of the scale indicate punitive, negative attitudes. Significant relationships were found among several demographic variables and knowledge and attitude scores for the total sample.
Conclusions: Registered nurses demonstrated limited knowledge about substance exposure, addiction, and its effects. They also held attitudes that were more punitive and negative than positive or supportive toward women who abused substances during the perinatal period.