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Experience, knowledge and attitudes of mental health staff regarding patients' problematic drug and alcohol use

, : Experience, knowledge and attitudes of mental health staff regarding patients' problematic drug and alcohol use. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 33(2): 267-273, April

Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the experience, knowledge and attitudes of mental health staff regarding patients' problematic drug and alcohol use in order to provide direction for planned drug and alcohol education. Method: A 47-item questionnaire was developed and individually posted to all mental health staff employed by Central Sydney Area Health Service (n = 536). Results: Three hundred and thirty-eight (63%) staff members completed the questionnaire. Thirty-six percent of respondents had received drug and alcohol training and 41% had drug and alcohol work experience. Drug and alcohol training and work experience were associated with increased drug and alcohol knowledge. Respondents' perception of their knowledge and competence was positively correlated with their actual knowledge. Most staff reported having regular contact with patients with psychotic illnesses and drug and alcohol problems. The majority considered the management of this patient group difficultand currently inadequate. Seventy percent believed that as mental health professionals they had a role to play in the management of their patients' drug and alcohol problems. Almost all (95%) were willing to participate in further education and training in this area. Conclusions: Mental health staff are often confronted with drug and alcohol problems in patients with psychotic illnesses. They perceive a need for drug and alcohol education and training specific to the management of these patients. Future research will need to evaluate outcomes of education and training programs for both staff and patients.


PMID: 10336226

DOI: 10.1046/j.1440-1614.1999.00547.x

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