OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to investigate nurses’ perceptions of caring for hospitalized medical-surgical patients with comorbid conditions of substance abuse/dependence.
BACKGROUND: Critical to this issue of quality patient care is the rising incidence of comorbid drug and alcohol abuse among hospitalized patients. Little research exists on the perceptions of nurses providing care to substance abuse/dependent medical-surgical hospitalized patients. There exists the need to further explore nurses’ perceptions regarding caring for this challenging population.
METHODS: Using a qualitative inductive approach, a convenience sample of 24 nurses completed research questions regarding their perceptions of caring for hospitalized patients with substance abuse/dependence.
RESULTS: Data analysis revealed ethical duty to care, negative perceptions toward patients with substance abuse/dependence, need for further education, sympathy, and issues with pain management. Providing quality nursing care for the hospitalized medical-surgical patient with concomitant alcohol and/or drug dependence is challenging for nursing. Nurses need additional education and professional support in caring for these individuals.