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Influencing undergraduate nursing students' attitudes toward mental health nursing : acknowledging the role of theory
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Brenda Happell
Most research designed to explore undergraduate nursing students’attitudes towards mental health nursing tends to upholdclinical experience as the decisive factor, with much less attentionpaid to the theoretical component. This paper presents thefindings of a state-wide study conducted with undergraduatenursing students in Victoria, Australia. A pre- and post-test designwas used to measure students’ attitudes toward people witha mental illness and toward mental health nursing and theirsense of preparedness for mental health practice. A questionnairewas administered at two time points; the first time pointwas following completion of the mental health nursing theoreticalcomponent, and the second was following the completion ofclinical experience. An additional scale was added at the secondtime point to evaluate students’ opinions about their clinicalplacement. The findings indicated significantly different attitudesand opinions depending on the university students attended. Theamount of theory undertaken in the course accounts for some, butnot all, of this variance. However, generally the students takingcourses with a larger theoretical component tended to demonstratehigher scores (suggestive of more favourable attitudes) onall of the subscales, and that these differences were sustainedfollowing the completion of the clinical placement. These findingssuggest that the amount of theory students receive in mentalhealth nursing may be more influential than the relevant literaturesuggests.