Past Year Substance Use by Student Nurses

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Purpose:Nurses who abuse substances are a threat to patients, colleagues, society, and themselves. Research indicates that substance use often begins during undergraduate years. The purpose of this research was to identify rates of past year substance use by student nurses.Method:A quantitative, cross-sectional, correlational design was used to examine past year substance use by student nurses and to determine whether substance use is related to age, gender, race, relationship status, ethnicity, country of birth, type of school program, and year in program. The convenience sample of National Student Nurses’ Association members yielded 4,033 completed surveys. Students were asked about their past year substance use via Survey Monkey. Responses were analyzed through exploratory data analysis and logistic regression.Results:Binge drinking was reported by 61% of the student nurses; 18% reported using marijuana; 5% reported using illegal drugs, excluding marijuana; 8% reported using nonprescribed stimulants to enhance academic performance; and 10% reported using nonprescribed prescription pills. Students who were younger than 28 years old, White, male, born in this country, or single tended to report more substance misuse than other students.Conclusions:The results suggest that student nurses tend to use fewer drugs than their college counterparts but are slightly more likely to binge drink. Further research is needed on the effect of substance education in the beginning of the nursing program and that continued throughout the program on student nurse substance use. Research on faculty’s ability to identify the at-risk student is necessary for early intervention.

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