The Role of Physician and Nurse Attitudes in the Health Care of Injecting Drug Users

School of Psychology and National Centre in HIV Social Research, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Substance Use &amp Misuse (Impact Factor: 1.23). 06/2010; 45(7-8):1007-18. DOI: 10.3109/10826081003659543
Source: PubMed


In 2005, 60 health care workers were recruited through services that attract injecting drug users (IDUs) and asked to complete attitude measures regarding IDU clients. Mediation analyses indicated that conservative health care workers displayed more negative attitudes toward their IDU clients because they believe that injecting drug use is within the control of the IDU. Negative attitudes toward IDU clients, in turn, were associated with worry about IDU clients' behavior in the clinic and with beliefs that IDU clients should disclose their hepatitis C status to their health care worker. Perceptions of controllability of drug use were also associated with the belief that IDU clients' ailments were caused by their IDU status. The study's limitations are noted.

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    • "One study identified beliefs of drug users as violent, having weak characters, being unhygienic, having contagious diseases, and being dangerous to be the most strongly endorsed stereotypes among hospital nurses (Natan et al. 2009). Importantly, prejudice is associated with stereotypes such that healthcare workers who are more prejudiced are also more likely to endorse drug use stereotypes and therefore worry that injection drug use clients will misbehave in treatment settings (e.g., act violently; Brener et al. 2010). Discrimination includes behavioral expressions of prejudice directed towards people with a history of drug addiction and can range from subtle (e.g., gossip) to extreme (e.g., job loss, social ostracism). "
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    • "Perceiving staff as non-threatening and supportive appears to be important for ongoing engagement of clients in treatment [16] and continuing after-care [25]. Health-care workers report that injecting drug users are often their most difficult clients, as they expect them to be more dangerous, less cooperative, more aggressive, less truthful, less likely to complete treatment and more demanding than other clients [26] [27]. It is thus unsurprising that health workers show evidence of negative unconscious attitudes toward their drug-injecting clients even when they report no conscious negative attitudes towards them [28]. "
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