Attitudes of qualified vs. student mental health nurses towards an individual diagnosed with schizophrenia

Mark Linden, Rory Kavanagh
Journal of Advanced Nursing 2012, 68 (6): 1359-68

AIM:   This paper is the report of a study which sought to compare the attitudes held by student and qualified mental health nurses towards individuals with schizophrenia in the Republic of Ireland.

BACKGROUND:   Media portrayals of individuals with schizophrenia often include images of aggression and violence. With global initiatives aimed at reducing the stigma and exclusion associated with mental illness, the attitudes of those who care for people with schizophrenia are of particular interest.

METHODS:   A survey was administered to 66 student mental health nurses, and 121 qualified mental health nurses. Participants completed the community attitudes to mental illness scale and the social interaction scale in 2009. Multivariate analysis of variance was used to test for the effects of qualification, work setting, years of experience and education on the measures.

RESULTS:   Nurses employed in a community setting held more positive attitudes, when compared with colleagues who worked in an inpatient setting, as measured by the community mental health ideology subscale, indicating their desire to promote community care for individuals with schizophrenia. Nurses working in an inpatient setting held more socially restrictive attitudes indicating that they felt individuals with schizophrenia were dangerous and should be avoided. These findings were statistically significant at the P < 0·05 level.

CONCLUSIONS:   Mental health nurses must be alerted to the fact that holding negative attitudes may adversely affect the therapeutic relationship and ultimately lead to stigmatization and its negative consequences.

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