Professionals’ views on challenges in inpatient substance abuse treatment during COVID-19 pandemic

Wednesday, 23 November, 2022 - 13:20 to 14:50


Pandemic caused by Covid-19 has harmful effects on people in need of special support. People with problematic substance use are recognized as such a group. Pandemic raises the need for sufficient treatment and services during these unpredictable conditions. At the same time, it causes severe challenges in producing and providing these services.

The purpose of the study was to qualitatively examine professionals’ (N=22) views on 1) challenges caused by Covid-19 in working in inpatient substance abuse treatment, 2) how these challenges have been dealt with, and 3) what are the consequences of the challenges and the solutions by using content analysis. Findings confirmed that Covid-19 has caused drastic changes in organizing treatment and daily practices. Professionals experience challenges in preventing Covid-19 infection from spreading into and in the treatment units. They also describe difficulties in applying social distancing in treatment that is based on therapeutic communities. Pandemic has also challenged communication and co-worker support among professionals. These challenges have led to practical solutions which, in turn, has their own consequences in treatment practices.

We conclude that because of the pandemic the quality of treatment has been impaired to some extent. Further research is still needed in challenges in inpatient substance abuse treatment due to COVID-19. We have examined professionals’ views and the next step is to hear from clients: how has the treatment changed from their point of view. What is the best practice and what should be avoided in future, if such a pandemic as COVID-19 hits us again?




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