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Allison MK, Henderson HM, Curran GM, Zielinski MJ. Emergency Department Nurses' Perceptions of Patient Substance Use, Impact on Sexual Assault Care, and Access to Follow-up Behavioral Health Resources. Journal of emergency nursing. 2022 Nov 1; 48(6):698-708.
INTRODUCTION: Patients may present to the emergency department for sexual assault care under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, many emergency nurses are not prepared to meet their unique needs or aware of follow-up behavioral health resources. The purpose of this study was to (1) summarize current resources provided to patients and processes for referral to behavioral health services after sexual assault care, (2) explore emergency nurses' attitudes and behaviors toward patient substance use, and (3) explore nurses' perceptions of adjunct mobile health interventions for follow-up behavioral health care and describe anticipated barriers to use. METHODS: Fifteen emergency nurses participated in semi-structured qualitative interviews. RESULTS: Participants had mixed perceptions of patient intoxication during sexual assault care. They felt that conversations about substance use may be more appropriate after the ED visit. Participants recognized the opportunity to connect ED patients with substance use treatment or prevention resources but perceived that there are few local service providers. Most participants were not referring patients with substance use issues to behavioral health services after sexual assault care and said that their emergency departments did not have processes for referral to these services. Acceptability of mobile health for follow-up behavioral health care was high, but participants had concerns for patient privacy and internet access. Participants gave recommendations to improve referral practices and patient engagement with mobile health interventions. DISCUSSION: This study highlights the need for emergency nurses to consider patient intoxication during sexual assault care and opportunities to connect patients with resources post-assault.