Attitudes of Mental Health Nurses to Self-Harm in Secure Forensic Settings: A Multi-Method Phenomenological Investigation

Wednesday, 24 July 2013: 3:50 PM

Peter Thomas Sandy, RMN, BSc, PGDipED, MSc, PhD
Health Studies, University of South Africa(UNISA), City of Tshwane, South Africa

Learning Objective 1: develop an understanding of the impact of mental health attitudes on service users` self-harming behaviour

Learning Objective 2: identify apprpopriate and therapeutic ways of responding to service users self-harming behaviours

Purpose:  The purpose of  this study is to develop an understanding of the attitudes of mental health nurses towards self-harm in secure forensic environments.

 Methods: This study adopted a multi-method phenomenological approach, and was conducted in secure environments within a large mental health Trust in England. It is first study to investigate DSH within secure settings using this menthodology. Data were collected using a semi-structured interview schedule. This involved 25 individual interviews and six focus groups. The data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.

Results: Mental health nurses have mixed attitudes towards self-harm, but mainly negative ones, which in the main relate to the impact of self-harm and to limited knowledge and skills.

Conclusion: These findings have implications for effective care provision. Routine education about self-harm should be provided for mental health nurses in secure settings in order to develop their attitudes, confidence and competence in care provision. Offering more training and support for mental health nurses may result in enhanced relationships with service users and thus, appropriate and effective care provision. The findings provide much needed information to assist those who are responsible for safeguarding this vulnerable group of adults.