The characteristics of recovering chemically dependent Manitoba nurses

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Tipliski, Veryl Margaret.
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The literature notes that nurses are at high risk for chemical dependency, with estimates of the incidence of this illness among nurses ranging from 6 - 8% (ANA, 1987), to 10- 20% (Curtin, 1987). There have been multiple suggestions as to the origin, risk factors and characteristics of susceptible nurses. However, the research effort with chemically dependent nurses has been minimal, especially outside of the United States, and there has not been a concerted effort to identify common characteristics and risk factors. In Manitoba, there was no empirical data. The purpose of this descriptive replication study was to provide information about the characteristics of recovering chemically dependent Manitoba nurses, and to identify variables associated with both chemical dependency and recovery. Information about these characteristics would also reveal if the nurses' profiles were unique, or similar to a national or international profile. The study utilized an anonymous mailed survey to collect quantitative data from chemically dependent Manitoba nurses who were in the recovery stages of their illness. The instrument used in the study was an adapted version of the Sullivan Survey of Chemical Dependency in Nursing. The sample consisted of 22 female recovering nurses who had been referred to the provincial peer assistance program. It was found that the majority of characteristics of the recovering Manitoba nurses are similar to those found in American studies, in particular, Sullivan (1987a). Some characteristics were found to be unique to the Manitoba sample: there were no males; the nurses are slightly older; less often divorced, experienced eating disorders; have higher incidences of sexual molestation, parental dependence, maternal depression, and a significant other who is also dependent; experienced less disciplinary action against their licences, believe that a clinical setting had no effect on becoming dependent, did not seek out a setting for easy drug access, and obtained prescription drugs from physicians rather than through diversion. Several implications for the nursing profession were submitted, aS well as recommendations for further study.