Thursday, February 24, 2011

Support needed to help nurses tackle substance abuse | Research News @ Vanderbilt | Vanderbilt University

by Kathy Rivers | Posted on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011 — 2:34 PM

An estimated 10 percent to 20 percent of nurses and nursing students in the United States may have substance abuse, misuse, dependency or addiction problems.

Todd Monroe

Todd Monroe (Vanderbilt)

The key to tackling this difficult issue — and protecting public safety — is support and treatment rather than punishment, according to a recent paper in the Journal of Clinical Nursing by Todd Monroe, a post-doctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, and colleagues at the University of Tennessee.

“Doctors and nurses are only human and face the same problems as everyone else, which can include chemical dependency,” said Monroe.

Researchers have recommended six key points that could be built into alternative-to-discipline strategies after reviewing the latest research and professional guidance from the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Benefits of alternative-to-discipline

The researchers said ATD programs 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 programs also provide non-judgmental support and treatment that encourage nurses to seek help and improve their chances of staying in the profession.

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