Research explores views of healthcare professionals working with psychoactive substance users

Thu 23 November, 2023
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New research from the University of Bedfordshire, which explores the experiences of healthcare professionals working with people who use a range of psychoactive substances (NPS), has found there is a need for better training, education, and assessment processes.

The report, co-authored by Dr David Solomon, Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing at Bedfordshire - has been published in the Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental Journal – together with academics from Anglia Ruskin University and Swansea University.

The study analysed the lived experiences of those who work with people using new psychoactive substances, which are substances that mimic traditional drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy. However, these can be up to ten times more potent, causing a range of physical and mental harm to those using them.

A series of semi-structured interviews with healthcare professionals took place in mental health addiction healthcare services across Hertfordshire, London, Essex, and Norfolk. Five common themes were identified, including a lack of assessment procedures in place, and how stigma affects treatment availability.

The analysis identified that these interviews allowed healthcare professionals to have an empowering voice and made them feel like they could make a difference to those using the substances. Findings from this study also highlighted the need for policy-making opportunities across the different healthcare services that may come into contact with people who use new psychoactive substances.

Speaking about this research, Dr Solomon said: "This is the first study to explore the experiences and views of healthcare professionals working with people who use new psychoactive substances in statutory, non-statutory, and private mental health and addiction healthcare services”.

“The findings highlight that healthcare professionals need better training, education, and assessment processes to manage people who use these substances. The benefits of this study may inform policy-making opportunities across different healthcare sectors, ensuring positive health outcomes for people who use new psychoactive substances.”

Click here to read the full publication.


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