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In Brazil, there is a dearth of research in addictions nursing and the educational preparation of nurses in the care and management of substance abuse. The aim of this study was to explore the students' perceptions of their teaching and learning strategies and their nursing care experiences with substance abusers. The method used in this exploratory study was a descriptive survey among students enrolled in 25 schools of nursing in Brazil. The findings suggested that the teaching received by undergraduate nurses on drug and alcohol education was mainly during the third and fourth year of graduation especially in the discipline of psychiatric nursing. The learning and teaching activities were based on theory (37%), clinical practice development (26%), group discussion (6%), and research (3%). The majority of nursing students in the Brazilian sample perceived substance abuse as a psychiatric disturbance and the predominant view was that it was categorized as a medical/disease model. This orientation may be due to the prevailing treatment and intervention philosophy in the management of psychiatric disorders and substance use problems. The findings suggested that undergraduate nurses in Brazil are receiving limited amount of instruction in drug and alcohol dependence and abuse. The need for a change in nurse education curricula to meet the demands of a public health program on drug and alcohol abuse is a key priority.