The impact of COVID-19 on alcohol and other drug nurses' provision of care: A qualitative descriptive study

Adam Searby, Dianna Burr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Aims and objectives: To explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on alcohol and other drug nurses providing treatment for individuals presenting with problematic alcohol and other drug use. Background: COVID-19 has caused disruption to contemporary health service delivery, including alcohol and other drug treatment. Provisional research on drug and alcohol consumption patterns shows changes attributable to the pandemic, with implications for service delivery. Research also indicates the impact of the pandemic on healthcare staff is significant, leading to workforce challenges that threaten care provision. Design: Qualitative descriptive study design. Methods: Data were collected using semi-structured, individual telephone interviews with practising alcohol and other drug nurses from Australia and New Zealand (n = 19). COREQ reporting guidelines were used. Results: After thematic analysis, three key themes emerged: ‘No room at the inn: Changes to service delivery due to COVID-19’, ‘We are providing care to a very vulnerable group of people: Consumer factors during COVID-19’ and ‘Personally, we were very, very stressed: Workforce factors due to COVID-19’. Conclusions: The findings from this study indicate that the impact of the pandemic was felt by alcohol and other drug nurses, services and healthcare consumers alike. The experiences of alcohol and other drug nurses through the COVID-19 pandemic need further exploration both to ensure workforce sustainability and that disruptions to alcohol and other drug services do not occur in future outbreaks of communicable disease. Relevance to clinical practice: COVID-19 has had a profound effect on nurses in all settings, and these effects are likely to be felt for some time after the pandemic: nursing specialties require support to ensure ongoing workforce sustainability and well-being of nursing staff. All nurses need to be aware of changes to alcohol and other drug use during the pandemic and screen healthcare consumers accordingly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1730-1741
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • alcohol and other drug (AOD) nursing
  • COVID-19
  • delivery of health care
  • pandemic
  • workforce

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