Generalist Nurses Caring for Patients with Mental Illness in a Non-Psychiatric Setting Public Deposited

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Last Modified
  • March 21, 2019
  • Bird, Paula
    • Affiliation: School of Nursing
  • Purpose: The purpose of this project was to describe an educational intervention that improves the attitudes and self-perceived knowledge and competences of generalist nurses caring for patients with acute psychiatric needs. Summary of the Evidence: There are two critical shortages impacting the mental health care of our nation: the availability of inpatient psychiatric beds, and the limited mental health workforce to provide care. Taken together, patients needing mental health care are often boarded in general hospitals and receive care by generalist nurses who are ill equipped to provide the necessary care. Description: A 6-hour continuing educational intervention targeting generalist nurses was developed and taught by an experienced psychiatric clinical nurse specialist. Evidence-based guidelines that focused on nursing competencies and improving nurses’ attitudes were used as part of the program development. Evaluation: Outcomes were measured using the Behavioral Health Care Competency and the Opening Minds Scale for Health Care Providers. The instruments were administered immediately pre- and post-educational session, and at 4 weeks post-educational session. Relevance: The analysis found that participants had significantly higher self-perceived behavioral health competencies and improved attitudes (reduced negativity toward mental illness) immediately after the education. Further, the results were sustained 4 weeks post education, after nurses had an opportunity to put what they learned into practice. Implications: A 6-hour educational intervention can positively impact the competencies and attitudes of generalist nurses caring for patients in non-psychiatric settings, and these impacts can last for up to 4 weeks. Patients with mental health needs who are admitted to a non-psychiatric setting will benefit from the training generalist nurses receive to improve the nurses’ attitudes and competencies in providing care to this population. Further work is needed to determine whether or not the impacts are longer lasting. Nursing leaders may want to consider having similar training for nurses providing care at the bedside to assure their staff have the necessary skills to care for all patients in a holistic manner.
Date of publication
Resource type
  • Jones, Cheryl
  • McLucas-Ingold, Jennifer
  • Leeman, Jennifer
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2018

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