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An examination of emergency department nurses' attitudes towards deliberate self-harm in an Irish teaching hospital

Linda McCarthy, Harry Gijbels
International Emergency Nursing 2010, 18 (1): 29-35
20129439

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine emergency department (ED) nurses' attitudes towards individuals presenting with deliberate self-harm (DSH), including the relationship between attitudes and factors such as age, academic achievements, length of experience, and self-harm education.

METHOD: The study adopted a quantitative descriptive and correlational design. ED nurses' attitudes, working in a level 1 trauma ED in the Republic of Ireland, were surveyed, using an amended version of McAllister's et al. [McAllister, M., Creedy, D., Moyle, W., Farrugia, C., 2002. Nurses' attitudes towards clients who self-harm. Journal of Advanced Nursing 40(5), 578-586.] Attitude Towards Deliberate Self-Harm Questionnaire (ADSHQ). The survey yielded an 85% (n=68) response rate.

RESULTS: The study found that ED nurses held positive attitudes towards individuals presenting with DSH. No correlation was found between total scores and gender, ED experience, or a history of self-harm education, although older nurses and hospital trained nurses had less positive attitudes. Age and length of clinical experience produced a trend in which attitudes increased, reached a peak and then declined.

CONCLUSION: Although ED nurses in this study hold positive attitudes, ongoing continuing education, which was identified as a key theme in the study, remains an important strategy to maintain and further improve attitudes. The need for research into aspects of care such as knowledge, awareness and empathy is recommended, as is the need to evaluate the extent to which the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention 2005-2014 recommendations [Department of Health and Children, Health Service Executive, National Suicide Review Group 2005. Reach Out - Irish National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention 2005-2014. <http://www.nosp.ie/reach_out.pdf&gt; (accessed 22.02.08)] have been implemented.

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