Problematic substance use: an assessment of workplace implications in midwifery

Pezaro, S., Maher, K. ORCID: 0000-0002-2279-3465, Bailey, E. and Pearce, G., 2021. Problematic substance use: an assessment of workplace implications in midwifery. Occupational Medicine. ISSN 0962-7480

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Background: Problematic substance use (PSU) poses occupational, personal, and professional risks. As an occupational group, midwives have been under-represented in research on PSU.

Aims: To assess self-reported occurrences of PSU, help-seeking behaviours and barriers, and perceptions of impairment in United Kingdom (UK) based midwives.

Methods: Self-selecting registered midwives were anonymously surveyed using The Tobacco, Alcohol, Prescription Medications, and Substance Use/Misuse (TAPS) Tool, the Perceptions of Nursing Impairment Inventory (PNII) and open-ended/closed questions. Quantitative data was used to explore PSU, help-seeking, and attitudes to impairment. Qualitative responses were used to provide richer understandings.

Results: From 623 completed surveys, 28% (n=176) self-reported PSU in response to work-related stress and anxiety, bullying, traumatic clinical incidents, and maintenance of overall functioning. PSU was related to alcohol and a range of restricted drugs. Whilst 11% of those affected indicated they had sought help, 27% felt they should seek help but did not. Reported barriers to help seeking included fear of repercussions, shame, stigma, practicalities, and a perceived lack of support either available or required. Perceptions of impairment were predominantly compassionate with a minority of stigmatising attitudes displayed.

Conclusion: Overall, 10% of the sample reported they had attended work under the influence of alcohol, and 6% under the influence of drugs other than tobacco or those as prescribed to them. Furthermore, 37% indicated concern about a colleague’s substance use. As stigmatising attitudes and punitive actions can dissuade help-seeking, changed perceptions and policies which favour alternatives to discipline are suggested to reduce risk overall.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Occupational Medicine
Creators: Pezaro, S., Maher, K., Bailey, E. and Pearce, G.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Date: 19 September 2021
ISSN: 0962-7480
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 09 Aug 2021 10:21
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2022 03:00

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