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The feelings and thoughts of mental health nurses concerning the management of distressed and disturbed in-patients: A comparative qualitative European study

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DOI: 10.4236/ojn.2013.36058    4,018 Downloads   7,272 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

High levels of distress and disturbance amongst those experiencing acute mental illness can be a major problem for mental health nurses. The feelings experienced by these nurses when caring for and supporting disturbed and/or distressed patients along with their concurrent thoughts are not well described in the literature. To date, this complex issue has not been explored within a comparative European context. The objective of this qualitative study was to explore the feelings and thoughts of mental health nurses when supporting and caring for distressed and/or disturbed patients in 6 European countries. Methods: Focus groups were used to collect data from 130 mental health nurses working in acute inpatient psychiatric settings. Results: Data were analysed using content analysis. Findings highlighted 6 broad themes: 1) Mixed emotions: expressive and responsive, 2) Procedure for caring for and supporting disturbed and/or distressed patients, 3) Use of guidelines for caring and supporting disturbed and/or distressed patients, 4) Team and organisational support, 5) Ethical concerns: Cognitive dissonance and 6) Education and training. Commonalities and differences were found across all themes. Approaches to care, nurses’ role and education, clinical guidelines and/or standards vary from country to country, therefore the care, treatment and management of distressed and/or disturbed patients are various. As a result, mental health nurses have different experiences, various emotional quandaries concurrent with cognitive dissonance and different coping strategies when caring for and supporting distressed and disturbed patients. Conclusions: More emphasis needs to be given to the emotional quandaries and concurrent cognitive dissonance experienced by mental health nurses caring for distressed and/or disturbed inpatients in acute psychiatric settings. Increased access to education and training with particular attention to interpersonal communication and relationship building within clinical teams needs to be a priority given the experiences described by mental health nurses.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Staniulienė, V. , Chambers, M. , Kantaris, X. , Kontio, R. , Kuosmanen, L. , Scott, A. , Rebelo Botelho, M. , Zanotti, R. and Välimäki, M. (2013) The feelings and thoughts of mental health nurses concerning the management of distressed and disturbed in-patients: A comparative qualitative European study. Open Journal of Nursing, 3, 426-436. doi: 10.4236/ojn.2013.36058.

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