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Bias, Education, Nursing Students, Substance Abuse



  1. Roncallo, Hannah R. MSN, RN, CEN
  2. Aronson, Barbara PhD, RN, CNE


Background: Healthcare providers, as well as healthcare students, have been found to harbor negative attitudes toward individuals with substance abuse disorders, impacting the care they give and subsequently creating poor patient outcomes.


Purpose: This study seeks to determine the effectiveness of an educational intervention, grounded in theory, toward changing nursing student attitudes regarding patients with a substance abuse disorder.


Methods: Nursing students participated in a teaching intervention, developed using the experiential learning theory, that utilizes modalities for each kind of learner aimed at reducing bias toward this population. The Medical Condition Regard Scale was used pre/post intervention to determine regard toward patients with the diagnosis of substance abuse.


Results: Student nurses maintained the least favorable attitudes toward individuals who abuse substances in comparison with patients with the diagnoses of pneumonia or gastroesophageal reflux disease; there were significant differences in attitudes toward patients who abused substances before and after participation in the educational intervention, with postparticipation attitudes being significantly more positive than attitudes before participation. Students found the educational intervention and debriefing highly satisfactory.


Implications: This educational intervention can provide a cost-effective, easy-to-replicate, time-efficient learning activity that could be added to undergraduate nursing curriculum.