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Novel psychoactive substance use by mental health service consumers: an online survey of inpatient health professionals’ views and experiences

Elizabeth Hughes (Centre for Applied Health Research, School of Human and Health Sciences, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)
Dan Bressington (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong)
Kathryn Sharratt (Department of Psychology, School of Human and Health Sciences, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)
Richard Gray (School of Nursing and Midwifery, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia)

Advances in Dual Diagnosis

ISSN: 1757-0972

Article publication date: 19 February 2018

Abstract

Purpose

There is evidence that novel psychoactive substances (NPS) are commonly used by people with severe mental illness. The purpose of this paper is to undertake a scoping survey to explore the inpatient mental health workers’ perceptions of NPS use by consumers.

Design/methodology/approach

A cross-sectional online survey of mental health professionals is used in the study. The participants were opportunistically recruited through social media and professional networks.

Findings

A total of 98 participants (of 175 who started the survey) were included in the analysis. All reported that some patients had used NPS prior to admission. Over 90 per cent of participants reported observing at least one adverse event relating to NPS use in the previous month. The majority of participants reported that patients had used NPS during their inpatient admission. Three quarters were not clear if their workplace had a policy about NPS. Most wanted access to specific NPS information and training. The participants reported that they lacked the necessary knowledge and skills to manage NPS use in the patients they worked with.

Research limitations/implications

Whilst the authors are cautious about the generalisability (due to methodological limitations), the findings provide useful insight into the perceptions of inpatient staff regarding the extent and impact of NPS use including concerns regarding the impact on mental and physical health, as well as ease of availability and a need for specific training and guidance.

Practical implications

Mental health professionals require access to reliable and up-to-date information on changing trends in substance use. Local policies need to include guidance on the safe clinical management of substance use and ensure that NPS information is included.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first survey of the perceptions of mental health staff working in inpatient mental health settings regarding NPS. The findings suggest that NPS is a common phenomenon in inpatient mental health settings, and there is a need for more research on the impact of NPS on people with mental health problems.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This study was part-funded by NIHR Collaboration for Applied Health Research – Yorkshire and Humber.

Citation

Hughes, E., Bressington, D., Sharratt, K. and Gray, R. (2018), "Novel psychoactive substance use by mental health service consumers: an online survey of inpatient health professionals’ views and experiences", Advances in Dual Diagnosis, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 30-39. https://doi.org/10.1108/ADD-07-2017-0008

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited