Abstracts of Oral and Poster Presentations

Dona Thomas, Deborah Nelson

Premature death in persons with mental illness is well documented. Mental health nurses have a key role in improving the physical health of people with serious mental illness. The aim of this study was to investigate and describe the attitudes, confidence, clinical practice and perceived training needs among qualified mental health nurses about the physical care of people with serious mental illness.
We used pre-tested and reliable tool for assessment. We had a 74% (n=138) response rate. Majority of the participants were working in inpatient setting. The most frequent reported perceived barrier was lack of motivation for exercise and lack of interest in improving their physical health.

The majority nurses were confident in blood pressure monitoring and blood glucose monitoring. Nearly half of the participants were not confident about assessing patients for ophthalmologic side effects due to psychotropic medications. Just above one third felt that patient’s regular follow up with dentists is the responsibility of nursing staff. Nearly one tenth participants were active smokers. Majority felt that cigarettes can be given to patient to achieve therapeutic goals. More than three forth were disagreed to give contraceptive advice to the patients with mental illness. Three quarter of nurses expressed the need to take training on smoking cessation and improve cardio vascular health.
Overall, the attitudes of nurses working in a mental health setting is positive towards physical health care, and there appears to be a willingness to take these roles; although they expressed the need to get further training in all areas of physical health.