Problematic substance use: an assessment of workplace implications in midwifery

Pezaro, S. and Maher, K. and Bailey, Elizabeth and Pearce, G. (2021) Problematic substance use: an assessment of workplace implications in midwifery. Occupational Medicine, 71 (9). pp. 460-466. ISSN 0962-7480

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The aim of this study was to assess self-reported occurrences of PSU, help-seeking behaviours and barriers, and perceptions of impairment in UK-based midwives.

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 were used to explore PSU, help-seeking and attitudes to impairment. Qualitative responses were used to provide richer understandings.

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. While 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 stigmatizing attitudes displayed.

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 stigmatizing attitudes and punitive actions can dissuade help-seeking, changed perceptions and policies which favour alternatives to discipline are suggested to reduce the risk overall.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number:
1 September 2021Accepted
19 September 2021Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: Substance-Related Disorders; Occupational Health: Professional Impairment; Alcohol Drinking; Midwifery; Nurse Midwives; Delivery of Health Care; Fitness to practise; Attitude of Health Personnel; Perception; Social stigma
Subjects: CAH02 - subjects allied to medicine > CAH02-04 - nursing and midwifery > CAH02-04-04 - midwifery
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Depositing User: Elizabeth Bailey
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2022 12:42
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2022 03:00

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