JUNE 2013 • PEER-REVIEWED FEATURE
Negative attitudes toward patients with a history of illicit drug use can adversely affect the therapeutic nurse-patient relationship, resulting in suboptimal patient care. We examined registered nurses’ attitudes toward patients with illicit drug use (e.g., non-prescription use of opioids and narcotics, use of illicit drugs) admitted to the general internal medicine unit of an urban hospital and attempted to identify nurse-specific and environmental factors influencing these attitudes. The results indicated that nurses had a neutral attitude toward working with patients with a history of illicit drug use, but respondents also had low motivation and role support (i.e., perception of receiving support to fulfil one’s professional role) related to caring for this high-risk population. The authors suggest greater use of organizational tools, such as protocols, consult services and in-services, to address nurses’ clinical concerns and support therapeutic nurse-patient relationships and thereby enhance care delivery.
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