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Undergraduate nursing students and mental health nursing : preparedness, attitudes, and clinical placement experiences

conference contribution
posted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 authored by K Gough, G Miller, Brenda Happell
A growing number of authors have expressed concerns as to whether comprehensive nursing programs adequately prepare undergraduate nursing students for a career in psychiatric nursing. Evidence suggests that nursing students typically feel ill-prepared for clinical placements in this area. Moreover, they enter mental health placements with misperceptions and/or negative attitudes about mental health consumers and mental health nursing. Whilst a sound clinical placement has the potential to ameliorate these problems, negative experiences may simply compound them. This study explored undergraduate nursing students’ preparedness for and level of satisfaction with clinical placement experiences, as well as their attitudes towards consumers and mental health nursing. Undergraduate nursing students’ perceptions, attitudes, and experiences were assessed via their responses to a 24-item pre-placement questionnaire and a 39-item postplacement questionnaire. Students also provided basic demographic information (e.g., gender, university attended, elective / compulsory placement). In total, 802 students completed the pre-placement questionnaire and 703 students completed the post-placement questionnaire. A comparison of baseline levels ofpreparedness and attitudes with post-placement scores suggested significant differences following clinical exposure in a mental health agency. Significant relationships between items assessing preparedness and attitudes with items assessing level of satisfaction with clinical experiences were also found. Of note, pre and post-placement responses to a number of statements demonstrated significant relationships with demographic variables such as gender and university attended. The results from this study are consistent with the proposition that sound clinical placements may improve students’ attitudes towards mental health consumers and mental health nursing. Nevertheless, differences on demographic variables indicate the importance of other factors.


Category 1 - Australian Competitive Grants (this includes ARC, NHMRC)


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Start Date



National Convention Centre, Canberra, Australia



Place of Publication

Canberra, ACT

Peer Reviewed


Open Access


Era Eligible


Name of Conference

Australian and New Zealand College of Mental Health Nurses

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