Experiences and outcomes of nurses referred to a peer health assistance program: Recommendations for nursing management

Elizabeth M. Pace, Chris Kesterson, Katherine Garcia, Jean Denious, Deborah S. Finnell, Sara Douglass Bayless

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: To provide recommendations for nursing management based on the experiences of current and former nurses who were served by a peer health assistance program (PHAP). Background: Providing help for nurses with impaired practice is critical to their health and well-being, assuring patient safety and public trust, as well as returning competent nurses to the healthcare workforce. Methods: Nurses (n = 268) who were current clients or former clients of a PHAP were surveyed about their experiences. Results: Nearly half of nurses were referred by the board of nursing with 69% reporting the referral was due to substance use, alcohol being the most common. Most (62%) did not believe that their substance use affected their practice yet relayed that recognition of their emotional or physical condition could have led to earlier identification. Key barriers to seeking assistance were fear and embarrassment, along with concerns about losing their nursing license. Conclusions: Nurses in management are in key roles to identify and intervene with nurses who are at risk for impaired practice. Implications for Nursing Management: Nurses in management and nurse colleagues would benefit from workplace education on the warning signs of impaired nursing practice and how to address it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-42
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of nursing management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • nurses
  • patient safety
  • substance use
  • workplace

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management


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