Service integration: the perspective of Australian alcohol and other drug (AOD) nurses
Searby, A and Burr, D and James, R and Maude, P, Service integration: the perspective of Australian alcohol and other drug (AOD) nurses, International Journal of Mental Health Nursing pp. 1-12. ISSN 1445-8330 (2022) [Refereed Article]
The recently released Victorian Mental Health Royal Commission report has recommended a shift to integrated treatment, defined as treatment for alcohol and substance use disorders and mental ill health occurring in parallel, rather than distinct systems catering to each need. However, little work has sought to determine the perceptions of nurses working in alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment towards integrating with mental health services. In this study, we explore the perspectives of specialist AOD nurses towards the integration of mental health and AOD treatment services. Secondary analysis of semi-structured interviews with Australian specialist AOD nurses (n = 46) conducted as part of a wider workforce study in 2019. Data were analysed using thematic analysis and reported using the COREQ guidelines. Of the interviews analysed, six were AOD nurses working in an Australian state that had recently undergone service integration; however, many participants expressed perceptions of service integration. Two key themes are reported in this paper: (i) perceptions of service integration, where AOD nurses participating in our study were concerned that integration would result in the model of care they worked under being replaced by a mental health-based model that was felt to be highly risk averse, and (ii) experiences of service integration. Concerns about the focus of care as well as the complexity of care differing between the two services demonstrated a contrast in both philosophical approaches to work with consumers and legislative difference in voluntary versus compulsory care provision.