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Int Emerg Nurs. 2009 Jan;17(1):3-14. doi: 10.1016/j.ienj.2008.08.003. Epub 2008 Oct 11.

A descriptive study on emergency department doctors' and nurses' knowledge and attitudes concerning substance use and substance users.

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School of Nursing and Midwifery, Brookfield Health Sciences Complex, University College Cork, Ireland.



The aim of this study was to determine emergency department doctors' and nurses' knowledge and attitudes regarding problematic substance use and substance users.


Data were collected using an adapted survey questionnaire and the Substance Abuse Attitude Survey (SAAS). By means of convenience/opportunistic sampling all emergency department doctors and nurses (N=145) working in three university teaching hospitals in Ireland were asked to fill out the knowledge and attitudes questionnaire.


A response rate of 46%, N=66 was achieved. Results indicate that participants' current level of knowledge about alcohol and drug misuse in general, is satisfactory. A particular knowledge deficit in relation to intervention strategies, and other substances was identified. The majority of participants have never received any specific training regarding substance use and this suggests that substance using patients are managed inadequately. The SAAS results indicate that participants exhibited near-optimal attitudes for constructive working with substance using patients.


There is an urgent need for further in-service training programmes and the development of standard protocols/guidelines for the identification and management of substance using patients who present in the emergency department.

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