Emotional Intelligence Training for Reducing Illicit Drug Use Potential among Iranian Nurses: A Pilot Study


Amir Hossein Goudarzian 1 , Ravanbakhsh Esmaeili 2 , * , Reza Alizadeh-Navaei 3 , Maryam Yousefi 1 , Abbas Balouchi 4

1 Mazandaran University of Medical Scienes, Sari, IR Iran

2 Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Orthopedic Research Center, Mazandaran University of Medical Scienes, Sari, IR Iran

3 Department of Medicine, Mazandaran University of Medical Scienes, Sari, IR Iran

4 Zabol University of Medical Sciences, Zabol, IR Iran

How to Cite: Goudarzian A H, Esmaeili R, Alizadeh-Navaei R, Yousefi M, Balouchi A. Emotional Intelligence Training for Reducing Illicit Drug Use Potential among Iranian Nurses: A Pilot Study, Iran J Psychiatry Behav Sci. 2017 ; 11(3):e6676. doi: 10.5812/ijpbs.6676.


Iranian Journal of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences: 11 (3); e6676
Published Online: July 30, 2017
Article Type: Brief Report
Received: May 19, 2016
Revised: December 13, 2016
Accepted: May 15, 2017


Background: Some studies show that a low level of emotional intelligence (EI) is associated with self-destructive behaviors such as deviant behavior or smoking.

Objective: The current study aimed at determining the effects of EI on the illicit drug use potential among nurses.

Methods: The current quasi-experimental study was conducted in 2015 on 70 hospital nurses. Samples were randomly selected and divided into 2 groups (35 nurses in each group). Then, the experimental group subjects attended EI training sessions.

Results: Illicit drug use potential in the experimental group had significant negative changes in comparison with that of the control group (P < 0.001) after the completion of the training sessions.

Conclusions: Given the importance of EI to help nurses to avoid risky behaviors, holding training sessions on EI for nurses and nursing students appears necessary.

1. Background

Nursing researches show that high emotional intelligence (EI) is positively associated with personal success, organizational citizenship, job satisfaction, and decreased job burnout (1). Some studies showed that low EI is associated with self-destructive behaviors such as deviant behavior or smoking (2). Drug use among health professionals is a problem that threatens professional standards and the delivery of quality services and, if not checked, can lead to grave consequences for health care consumers (3).

Several studies examined the relationship between EI and addiction (4, 5). But, so far, the relationship between EI and the illicit drug use potential among nurses is not studied using an interventional method.

2. Objectives

The current study aimed at determining the impact of EI training on the illicit drug use potential among nurses.

3. Materials and Methods

The current quasi-experimental study was conducted on the nurses of Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, Iran, in 2015. After gaining approval for the current study from the ethics committee of Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, a pilot study was carried out on 30 nurses with the same quality of the original study. Based on the results, 70 participants were selected as the study sample (with a confidence interval (CI) of 95% and test power of 80%). Subjects were randomly selected from Imam Khomeini (n = 23), Fatemeh Zahra (n = 17), and Bou-Ali hospitals (n = 30).

3.1. Procedures

The inclusion criteria were (i) an age range of 24 to 35 years, (ii) lack of acute and chronic physical and mental illnesses (determined by a psychologist), (iii) no drug use, and (iv) full consent. Exclusion criteria included all events preventing the continuation of the study (ie, physical and mental crisis). None of the samples left the study.

Participants were randomly divided into two 35-member groups (experimental and control). At first, 70 random numbers between 0 and 1 were made by computer (Excel software), and then, numbers were printed automatically. An envelope containing a number was given to each subject. Nurses with numbers < 0.5 were assigned into the experimental group and the ones with the numbers > 0.5 were assigned into the control group. Next, EI training was given to the experimental group by a psychologist using a standard EI checklist (6). The training period was 6 weeks, 2 sessions per week and each session minimum 60 minutes (6). Each of the dimensions in the checklist was taught in 2 training sessions by the psychologist. In the overall dimensions, subjects were followed up for 7 weeks.

3.2. Scale

Before and after the full course of training, illicit drug use potential was assessed in both the intervention and control groups, using the Iranian addiction potential scale (IAPS), developed by Zargar (2006), which considers the psychosocial conditions of Iranian society (7). The construct validity of this scale was 0.45 through linking it with 25 items of a symptom checklist 25 (SCL-25), which was significant at P = 0.001 (8). Based on the Cronbach’s alpha, the validity of this scale was 0.90 in the present study.

3.3. Statistical Analysis

The data analysis was performed using SPSS 21.0 (IBM, Armonk, NY). The basic descriptive for the quantitative variables was expressed using mean (standard deviation), and n (%) for the qualitative variables. A Chi-square test was used to determine the relationship between the main and demographic variables. Also, the independent and paired t tests were used to compare the variance of scores in a group and across groups, before and after the intervention. Significance level was considered P < 0.05.

4. Results

Demographic profile of participants is presented in Table 1. By performing a Chi-square test (Table 1), no significant differences were observed in either group in gender, marital status, economic status, housing, education, and working shifts. The employment status in both experimental and control groups was contractual (45.7% and 37.1%, respectively), which indicated no significant difference across the groups (P = 0.483).

Table 1. Demographic Characteristics of the Study Groupsa
VariablesExperimental GroupControl GroupP Value
Male10 (28.57)13 (37.1)
Female25 (71.43)22 (62.9)
Age29.54 ± 3.40730.83 ± 3.7850.471
Marital status0.54
Single08 (22.86)05 (14.29)
Married27 (77.14)30 (85.71)
Level of education0.493
B.Sc.35 (100)33 (94.28)
MS.sc002 (5.72)
Economic status0.271
Poor11 (31.42)14 (40)
Average21 (60)15 (42.85)
Higher than average3 (8.58)5 (14.29)
Rich01 (2.86)
Residential status0.54
Owner30 (85.71)27 (77.14)
Tenant05 (14.29)08 (22.86)
Work Shift1
Fixed04 (11.42)04 (11.42)
Rotating shift work31 (88.58)31 (88.58)

aValues are expressed as No. (%) or mean ± SD.

The average scores of nurses’ illicit drug use potential are listed in Table 2 for each group. Also, before the training, the 2 groups were not significantly different (P = 0.340). According to Table 2, EI training in the intervention group had a significant adverse effect on the illicit drug use potential among nurses (P < 0.001).

Table 2. Comparison of the Scores of Illicit Drug Use Potential in the Study Groupsa,b
VariableControlExperimentalP1 Value95%CI
Pretest41.71 (12.718)40.60 (9.623)0.340-4.265, 6.493
Posttest42.71 (12.472)35.37 (8.496)< 0.001c2.253, 12.433
P2 value0.681< 0.001c

aP1 and p2 was assessed using the independent and paired t tests, respectively.

bValues are expressed as mean (SD).

cP < 0.001.

The results of the paired t test for the scores of illicit drug use potential, before and after training in both groups, showed that EI had a significant positive effect on reducing the illicit drug use potential in the experimental group (P < 0.001; 95% CI: 4.358 - 6.099). F ± SD coefficient in both experimental and control groups were 3.346 ± 1.114 and 49.988 ± 6.228, respectively based on the paired t test.

5. Discussion

Results of the current study showed that EI training led to reduction of the illicit drug use potential (P < 0.001; 95%CI: 2.253 - 12.433). The study by Nadalinezhad et al. showed that EI training reduced the illicit drug use potential in the youth (5). Various studies on students (9), addicts (10), and adults (11, 12) indicate an inverse relationship between EI and the illicit drug use potential. However, the results of the current study were not consistent with those of the study by Harakeh et al. (13). This difference could be due to the age and population difference between the studies. People with high EI have the ability to understand and analyze their own and others’ emotional experiences, and this enables them to regulate their emotions and resist developing bad habits such as addiction (9). Moreover, Albein-Urios’s study showed that the inability to properly control emotions is an important factor in the illicit drug use potential (14). A study by Stappenbeck and Fromme confirmed that training these skills led to the prevention of alcohol consumption and negative emotions (15). Moreover, there was a direct relationship between EI and the relapse rate of addiction (16). The present study also found that EI can be an important factor in explaining and predicting the illicit drug use potential among nurses, which was consistent with the results of Ghanbari et al. (9). The study by Coelho showed that the subjects with a higher EI exhibit less of a propensity to consume tobacco and alcohol (high-risk behaviors) (17). Additionally, the results of previous studies indicated a significant difference between the EI of addicts and non-addicts. In other words, addicts had a higher social intelligence. But, it was the first study that assessed this issue in the Iranian nurses.

5.1. Conclusions

Based on the results of the current study and other studies (reducer effects of EI on illicit drug use potential), it can be concluded that EI is a component that could be taught; it improves the quality of patient care and helps nurses to avoid risky behavior. Given the importance of EI, holding EI training sessions for nurses and nursing students seems necessary.

5.2. Limitations

The limitations of the current study included the nature of education and the probable relationship among the nurses. Also, the current study was a quasi-experimental survey. Hence, it is recommended to conduct randomized controlled trial studies with more details in different regions of Iran.




  • 1.

    Codier E, Kamikawa C, Kooker BM, Shoultz J. Emotional intelligence, performance, and retention in clinical staff nurses. Nurs Adm Q. 2009; 33(4) : 310 -6 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 2.

    Brackett MA, Mayer JD, Warner RM. Emotional intelligence and its relation to everyday behaviour. Pers Individ Differ. 2004; 36(6) : 1387 -402 [DOI]

  • 3.

    Monroe T, Kenaga H. Don't ask don't tell: substance abuse and addiction among nurses. J Clin Nurs. 2011; 20(3-4) : 504 -9 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 4.

    Khanmohammadi Otaghsara A, Homayouni A. EPA-1501 – Comparative investigation the role of personality traits and emotional intelligence in tendency to addiction. Eur Psychiatr. 2014; 29 : 1 [DOI]

  • 5.

    Nadalinezhad M, Abbasalipour M. P-71 - Comparisnal investigation of emotional intelligent and tendency to addiction between addicted and nonaddicted people. Eur Psychiatr. 2012; 27 : 1 [DOI]

  • 6.

    Pourmohamadreza-Tajrishi M, Ashori M, Jalilabkenar SS. The Effectiveness of Emotional Intelligence Training on the Mental Health of Male Deaf Students. Iran J Public Health. 2013; 42(10) : 1174 -80 [PubMed]

  • 7.

    Developing the Iranian form of addiction potential scale. The second conference of psychology association of Iran. : 398 -401

  • 8.

    Hajihasani M, ShafiAbadi A, Pirsaghi F, Kiyanipour O. Relationship between aggression, assertiveness, depression and addiction potential in female students of allameh tabbatabai [In Persian]. Knowledge Res Appl Psychol. 2012; 13(3) : 65 -74

  • 9.

    Ghanbari A, Tahmasebi Kahyany F, Naderi–Lordejani M. The relationship between emotional intelligence and addiction potential tendency pre-university students [In Persian]. J Shahrekord Univ Med Sci. 2013; 15(3) : 33 -9

  • 10.

    Narimani MHJ. Emotional intelligence and quality of life in men addicts and non addicts, addiction [In Persian]. J Res Add. 2011; 5(19) : 45 -56

  • 11.

    Trinidad DR, Johnson CA. The association between emotional intelligence and early adolescent tobacco and alcohol use. Pers Individ Differ. 2002; 32(1) : 95 -105 [DOI]

  • 12.

    Derksen J, Kramer I, Katzko M. Does a self-report measure for emotional intelligence assess something different than general intelligence? Pers Individ Differ. 2002; 32(1) : 37 -48 [DOI]

  • 13.

    Harakeh Z, Scholte RH, de Vries H, Engels RC. Association between personality and adolescent smoking. Addict Behav. 2006; 31(2) : 232 -45 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 14.

    Albein-Urios N, Verdejo-Roman J, Soriano-Mas C, Asensio S, Martinez-Gonzalez JM, Verdejo-Garcia A. Cocaine users with comorbid Cluster B personality disorders show dysfunctional brain activation and connectivity in the emotional regulation networks during negative emotion maintenance and reappraisal. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2013; 23(12) : 1698 -707 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 15.

    Stappenbeck CA, Fromme K. The effects of alcohol, emotion regulation, and emotional arousal on the dating aggression intentions of men and women. Psychol Addict Behav. 2014; 28(1) : 10 -9 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 16.

    Raisjouyan Z, Talebi M, Ghasimi Shahgaldi F, Abdollahian E. Investigating the Effect of Emotional Intelligence on the Addiction Relapse after Quitting. Asia Pac J Med Toxicol. 2014; 3(1) : 27 -30

  • 17.

    Coelho KR. Emotional Intelligence: An Untapped Resource for Alcohol and Other Drug Related Prevention among Adolescents and Adults. Depress Res Treat. 2012; 2012 : 281019 [DOI][PubMed]

  • Copyright © 2017, Iranian Journal of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits copy and redistribute the material just in noncommercial usages, provided the original work is properly cited.