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P47. Changing Stigma Towards Substance Use Disorder through Knowledge and Self-Awareness Training for Professionals

P47. Changing Stigma Towards Substance Use Disorder through Knowledge and Self-Awareness Training for Professionals

Learner category:

  • Beginning Level
  • Novice Level
  • Intermediate Level

Learning objectives:

  • Participants will develop in their knowledge of the origin of stigma towards substance use disorder in healthcare professionals.
  • Participants will explore echniques to reduce stigma towards substance use disorder in healthcare professionals will be explored with the most important one being the effectiveness of an educational workshop towards this end.
  • Participants will explore how motivational Interviewing techniques incorporated into a workshop can be applied to reduce stigma and
    increase self-awareness in nurses and social workers.



Substance use disorder and stigma among healthcare providers has gained more attention as a serious public health concern and is the leading cause of death in the United States. There is little research on the nature and effectiveness of interventions that decrease stigma in healthcare professionals. The study site was two acute care hospital campuses providing emergency room, detoxification, psychiatric, and medical surgical care. The premise of this study was that there was a correlation between social workers’ and nurses’ stigmatizing attitudes, the perceptions by those they care for, and treatment outcomes. This study featured a non-random sample of healthcare providers with a pre and posttest group to compare stigmatizing attitudes before and after an educational workshop utilizing motivational interviewing skills to promote behavioral change. Stigma was measured using the Opening Minds Stigma Scale for Healthcare Providers (OMS-HC) to establish whether there was a change in stigmatizing attitudes after the workshop. The sample consisted of 54 medical and mental health social workers and therapists on all units of two sister hospitals which were the venue for this study. Practical implications of this project and its deliverable are that the curriculum can be replicated in hospital orientation for nurses, social workers and other staff in an effort to reduce stigmatization of this population. Front line healthcare providers who are informed and caring can serve a pivotal role in our nation’s substance use disorder epidemic by identifying and encouraging entry into treatment, even when this disorder is not the presenting problem.


Shirley Sunn
DSW, MSW, LCSW Encino Hospital Medical Center

Dr Sunn is a licensed clinical social worker who recently obtained her doctorate in social work. Her capstone project was a program evaluation of an educational workshop to reduce stigma towards substance use disorder in nurses and social workers. She is a bi-campus behavioral health director with a specialty in clinical supervision of social workers and emergency psychiatric response clinicians. She has extensive experience in behavioral health and also has a private practice where she does telemental health psychotherapy with patients with a broad spectrum of diagnoses. She also sees many Veterans with PTSD.

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