New psychoactive substances (NPS) are increasingly being used in secure mental health settings. Within these settings, NPS use presents a range of challenges and staff currently lack adequate training to manage these challenges. The purpose of this paper is to explore nursing staffs’ perception of the challenges of working with patients who use NPS and to explore nursing staffs’ perception of their training needs in relation to NPS.
A cross-sectional qualitative design was employed. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight nursing staff from a medium secure unit (MSU).
A thematic analysis identified three overarching themes: “There Will Always Be Something”, “We Are Doing Our Best” and “If We Know More, We Can Do More”. The findings describe how nursing staff manage NPS use at present, and their perceptions of how training could improve their management of NPS use in the future.
The findings suggest that MSUs require a local policy for managing NPS use. The research implies that staff training programmes should recognise the existing methods staff use to manage NPS use. The findings also suggest that NPS interventions should target the whole peer group and not just the individual using NPS.
This paper contributes to the limited literature on NPS. The findings demonstrate the importance of developing evidence-based mechanisms for managing NPS use. Changes to practice are suggested, with the view of developing ways in which staff currently manage NPS use by complementing this with specific training on NPS.
A special thank you to the Psychology Department and the Drug and Alcohol team at the unit where this study was conducted.
Mckenzie, E. and Harvey, J. (2019), "The perceived challenges of working with patients who use new psychoactive substances: a qualitative study in a medium secure unit", The Journal of Forensic Practice, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 12-22. https://doi.org/10.1108/JFP-09-2019-0036Download as .RIS
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