Barriers and facilitators to becoming an alcohol and other drug nurse practitioner in Australia: A mixed methods study

Adam Searby, Dianna Burr, Colleen Blums, Jason Harrison, Darren Smyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Alcohol and other drug (AOD) nurse practitioners have an advanced scope of practice that allows them to diagnose, prescribe pharmacological treatments for alcohol and other substance use disorders, and monitor physical and mental health. The Behaviour Change Wheel (BCW) is used to understand barriers and facilitators to implementation by applying three conditions of behaviour change (capability, opportunity, and motivation—the COM-B framework). The aim of this paper is to describe the current AOD nurse practitioner workforce, and to explore barriers and facilitators to AOD nurse practitioner uptake in Australia. A mixed method approach was used in this study: a survey to determine the current state of the AOD nurse practitioner workforce (n = 41) and qualitative interviews with 14 participants to determine barriers to endorsement and ongoing work as a nurse practitioner. Interview transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis and mapped to the COM-B framework. The AOD nurse practitioner is a highly specialized provider of holistic care to people who use alcohol and other drugs, with AOD nurse practitioners performing advanced roles such as prescribing and medication management. However, there are several barriers to the further uptake of AOD nurse practitioners in Australia, including varied organizational support, a lack of support for the higher study required to become a nurse practitioner and a lack of available positions. Arguably, nurse practitioners are key to addressing prescriber shortages inherent in AOD treatment settings. In addition, they are equipped to provide true holistic care. We recommend that barriers are addressed to expand the AOD nurse practitioner workforce in Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)839-853
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • alcohol and other drug
  • alcohol related disorders
  • implementation science
  • nurse practitioners
  • nurse specialists
  • substance related disorders

Cite this