Hughes, Elizabeth, Sharratt, Kathryn, Bressington, Daniel and Gray, Richard (2018) Novel psychoactive substance use by mental health service consumers: an online survey of inpatient health professionals’ views and experiences. Advances in Dual Diagnosis, 11 (1). pp. 30-39. ISSN 1757-0972

There is evidence that novel psychoactive substances (NPS) are commonly used by people with severe mental illness. The aim of the study was to undertake a scoping survey to explore inpatient mental health workers' perceptions of NPS use by consumers.

Design/methodology: A cross-sectional online survey of mental health professionals. Participants were opportunistically recruited through social media and professional networks.

A total of 98 participants (of 175 who started the survey) were included in the analysis. All reported that some patients had used NPS prior to admission. Over 90% of participants reported observing at least one adverse event relating to NPS use in the previous month. The majority of participants reported that patients had used NPS during their inpatient admission. Three quarters were not clear if their workplace had a policy about NPS. Most wanted access to specific NPS information and training. Participants reported that they lacked the necessary knowledge and skills to manage NPS use in the patients they worked with.

Research Limitations/Implications:
Whilst we are cautious about the generalizability (due to methodological limitations), our findings provide useful insight into the perceptions of inpatient staff regarding the extent and impact of NPS use including concerns regarding impact on mental and physical health, as well as ease of availability and a need for specific training and guidance.

Practical Implications:
Mental health professionals require access to reliable and up to date information on changing trends in substance use. Local policies need to include guidance on the safe clinical management of substance use and ensure that NPS information is included.

To the best of our knowledge this is the first survey of the perceptions of mental health staff working in inpatient mental health settings regarding NPS.The findings suggest that NPS is a common phenomenon in inpatient mental health settings, and there is a need for more research on the impact of NPS on people with mental health problems.

NPS_article_resubmission.pdf - Accepted Version

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