Nurses knowledge and attitudes to individuals who self-harm: A quantitative exploration

Vine J, Shahwan-Akl L, Maude P, Jones LK, Kimpton A


Objective: Self-injury can be described as the deliberate destruction of the body without the intent to die, and is a distinct clinical presentation needing to be assessed separately from suicide and para-suicide. Nurses attitude to self-injury is a largely unexplored area particularly within Australia. The aim of this paper is to explore Australian general and mental health nurses’ attitudes towards self-injury taking into account their preparation as registered nurses (RNs) or enrolled nurses (ENs) and length of experience.
Methods: This was a mixed methods exploratory design study. Phase one used a combination of two established surveys, the Self-Harm Antipathy Scale (SHAS) and the Attitudes Towards Deliberate Self-Harm Questionnaire (ATDSHQ). Nurses who were either RNs or ENs, mental health educated (MHE) or not, working in the area of mental health or emergency departments (ED) were recruited through a number of professional nursing organisations. A total of 172 nurses completed the phase one online questionnaire. The results of this survey are reported in this paper.
Results: The key findings indicated a significant relationship between years of mental health nursing experience and mental health nursing qualification. A significant difference was noted in the knowledge level of self-injury between the mental health nurses who had a greater knowledge compared to those who were not mental health educated. Lastly, the attitudes of nurses to self-injury were generally found to be positive.
Conclusions: These results extend much of what is in the literature on knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of nurses to non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and place these results in an Australian context. Further research to assess the effectiveness of increased education and community engagement should be undertaken.

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Journal of Hospital Administration

ISSN 1927-6990(Print)   ISSN 1927-7008(Online)

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