Healthcare workers perspectives of controlled prescription drug abuse in the health care workforce at Mulago National and Jinja Regional Referral hospitals
Mpewo, Judah Thadeus
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Background: Controlled prescription drug abuse has reached epidemic levels globally. Much as the problem is known in the general population, little is known about healthcare workers. Abuse of controlled prescription drugs by healthcare workers is associated with detrimental work outcomes. This study was set out to explore the extent, drivers and work outcomes of controlled prescription drug abuse among healthcare workers. Methods: We conducted a phenomenological qualitative study at Jinja Regional Referral Hospital and Mulago National Referral Hospital. Data collection was done across June and July, 2019. 27 healthcare workers were interviewed using a key informant guide. Responses were audio recorded and others hand-written. The audio recordings were transcribed using Microsoft word. Using thematic analysis, the data was analyzed to yield themes. Results: The respondents included 14 males and 13 females with a fair distribution across all the medical disciplines. The mean age of the respondents was 39.59yrs and average experience of 11.07 years. Participants reported abuse of morphine and pethidine dominantly in the operating theatres. Stress, chronic illness, pain and marital issues were among the commonly reported drivers of controlled prescription drug abuse. The abuse of controlled prescription drug abuse produced negative work, personal and societal outcomes. Conclusions: The study identified that 10-20% of healthcare workers abuse controlled prescription drugs. Notably morphine and pethidine. The abuse was common among female nurses stationed in the operating theatres. Stress, pain and marital issues were reported to cause abuse of the controlled prescription drugs. The total impact on work was negative with absenteeism, late coming, wrong doses and death of healthcare workers.