Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School


First Advisor

Franklin Schaller, DNP, APRN, FNP-C.

Second Advisor

Valerie Pauli, EdD, MSN, RN, ACNS-BC, CNE.

Third Advisor

Jennifer Avery, PhD, RN, GNP-BC.


The purpose of this thesis is to gain a holistic view of the prevalence of substance abuse within the nursing profession. This thesis is based on an extensive review of the literature which covers the history and prevalence of substance abuse, contributing risk factors to substance abuse, impacts on patient care, corrective actions, and preventive measures. The prevalence of substance abuse among nurses was first documented in the 1980s, with the current number of nurses with substance abuse ranging from 5-20% (Luurila et al., 2022). Multiple electronic databases were searched for literature published between 1982-2022. Findings indicated risk factors for nurse substance abuse to include the following: family history and genetic predisposition, history or current diagnosis of mental illness, occupational stressors such as exhaustive work conditions and working in high-stress nursing specialties, and direct, convenient access to controlled substances. Quality of care can be negatively impacted when a nurse is under the influence of a substance and patient outcomes can be jeopardized through neglectful practice and unintended errors. This review identified methods to mitigate substance abuse among nurses which include policy from healthcare administration and licensing bodies, effective coping strategies, and addressing modifiable risk factors.

Included in

Nursing Commons