Characteristics of chemically dependent nurses in a large metropolitan area in the State of Texas

Date

1986

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Abstract

The problem of drug abuse among professional nurses was, until recently, a closely guarded and suppressed secret (Green, 1985). Today it is the number one problem affecting professional nursing. Bissell (1985) reports that there is little reliable data to the exact incidence of drug dependency among nurses. Estimates are that alcoholism among nurses parallels that of society at 8 - 10 percent of the population. Dependency to other drugs is estimated to be 5-7 percent of nurses, which is 30 - 100 times higher than the general population (Fox and Murray, 1974; Winick, 1974; and Gabel, 1985) . The purpose of this study was to investigate the following research question: Are personality and demographic characteristics significantly different for chemically dependent nurses in support groups and non-chemically dependent nurses in a large metropolitan area in the State of Texas? One hundred chemically dependent nurses in support groups and 396 non-chemically dependent nurses in a large metropolitan area in the State of Texas were mailed questionnaires. The study included 66 chemically dependent and 128 non-chemically dependent professional nurses in the State of Texas who returned the questionnaire. The questionnaire included a demographic section and a personality questionnaire, Cattell's 16 PF. Hotelling's T2 was found to be significant at the p<0.05 level for Cattell's 16 PF between the two groups. Discriminant function analysis was significant at p<.05 level for five of the personality characteristics measured by the 16 PF indicating that the chemically dependent nurses were less emotional stability, more assertive, less conscientious, had an undisciplined self-conflict, and had higher levels of anxiety. Demographic characteristics were assessed by utilizing a Chi square statistic. The following were found to be significant at the p<.05 level: initial and advanced education, shift worked, consideration of suicide, licensure, history of family dependency, and history of childhood illnesses.

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Keywords

Nurses--Drug use, Nurses--Alcohol use

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