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Nursing Students' Attitudes to Mental Health Nursing: Psychometric Properties of a Self-report Scale

Published:January 16, 2009DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apnu.2008.10.005
      Negative attitudes toward people experiencing mental illness and mental health nursing as a career option have been recognized as a major barrier to sustaining an adequate psychiatric nursing workforce. This article presents the findings from a prospective observational study that explored the relationship between undergraduate nursing students' (n = 688) attitudes relevant to the mental health field, preparedness, and career preferences after they had completed a mental health placement. A comparison was also made between the self-reported attitudes, beliefs, and preferences of two groups of students, one with and one without relevant clinical experience. Finally, the psychometric properties of the clinical evaluation component of the survey were explored because the structure and composition of this component have not been assessed or reported previously. The findings have direct implications for psychiatric–mental health education. They show a strong association between educational preparation, placement experiences, and students' attitudes toward psychiatric nursing and consumers of mental health services. Findings also indicated that students with clinical experience felt significantly more prepared for employment in the mental health field and significantly less anxiety surrounding mental illness than did students without clinical experience.
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