Comorbidity of mental health and substance misuse problems: a review of workers' reported attitudes and perceptions

M W Adams
Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing 2008, 15 (2): 101-8
A comorbidity of mental health and substance misuse problems has been associated with deleterious outcomes. In the United Kingdom it has been acknowledged that people with comorbidity have often received poor care, with gaps in service provision suggesting ambivalence towards this issue. Previous reviewing authors have concluded that health professionals hold stereotypical views towards people that misuse substances, but these findings may not be directly comparable to those who work within mental health services. There is however a growing body of evidence concerning this context. The author has reviewed the literature from 1996 to 2006 to ascertain mental health professionals and allied workers attitudes and perceptions towards comorbidity, perceptions on the effectiveness of service systems, and perceptions of personal knowledge and skill in providing effective interventions. The evidence presented mainly pertains to mental health nurses, which reflects their status as the largest discipline within the mental health workforce. Overall attitudes towards comorbidity are mixed, possibly being related to contextual issues of practice and are not necessarily negative. However, there is an almost universal negative perception of deficiencies in service provision and the adequacy of training. Implications for research, development and practice are explored.

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