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Teaching Nursing Students How to Decrease the Stigma Against People Who Use Drugs

Dion, Kimberly, PhD, RN, CNE

doi: 10.1097/NNE.0000000000000647
Nurse Educator: PDF Only

Background People who use drugs (PWUD) experience bias and stigmatization from their health care providers at higher rates than do people with other health conditions.

Problem Nursing students are ill-prepared to care for PWUD.

Approach Nursing students received 2 educational sessions targeted at caring for PWUD. One hour focused on identifying and intervening in the case of an opioid overdose. The other was about stigmatization experienced by PWUD, harm reduction, nonstigmatizing language, and ways in which nurses can improve care for PWUD.

Outcomes Students demonstrated the use of destigmatizing language, applied learned harm reduction concepts, and incorporated referral to area resources for counseling or treatment during care of PWUD.

Conclusions By using the reflective learning taught in the classroom, nursing students were able to establish the human connection needed to improve care for this vulnerable population.

Author Affiliation: Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Nursing.

The author declares no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Dr Dion, University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Nursing, 651 North Pleasant St, Amherst, MA 01003 (

Accepted for publication: December 15, 2018

Published ahead of print: January 21, 2019

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