Survey Finds Few Health Professionals Prepared to Address Patients' Substance Abuse

More than 60 percent of the nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, and mental health professionals reported they did not feel adequately prepared to engage in motivational conversations with their patients to promote behavior change, according to a Kognito whitepaper co-authored by a faculty consultant at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.

A survey of 1,002 health care professionals from more than 200 organizations found that relatively few of them feel ready to address the needs of patients with potential substance abuse and mental health problems. More than 60 percent of the nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, and mental health professionals reported they did not feel adequately prepared to engage in motivational conversations with their patients to promote behavior change, according to a whitepaper co-authored by Glenn Albright, Ph.D., co-founder and director of research at Kognito, and Deborah S. Finnell, DNS, CARN-AP, FAAN, a faculty consultant at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.

The survey was conducted between August 2015 and September 2018, with participants completing the survey just prior to enrolling in one of Kognito's online simulations on substance abuse and mental health.

Fewer than half of the respondents indicated they felt adequately prepared to collaborate with patients on treatment plans, which shows the need for screening and brief intervention (SBI) training and that "considerable investment in preparing the health care professional workforce is needed to address the behavioral health needs of patients," the authors reported.

However, they also found that more than 80 percent of the respondents reported they intended to use these clinical skills with their patients.

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