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Keywords:

  • mental illness;
  • adherence/compliance;
  • decision making;
  • hospital/institutional environment;
  • qualitative

Abstract

Psychiatric patients are liable to stereotyping by healthcare providers. We explored attitudes toward caring for psychiatric patients among 13 nurses working in general hospitals in Ireland. Participants thought aloud in response to a simulated patient case and described a critical incident of a patient for whom they had cared. Two attitudinal orientations were identified that correspond to stereotypical depictions of risk and vulnerability. The nurses described psychosocial care strategies that were pragmatic rather than authentically person-centered, with particular associations between risk-oriented attitudes and directive nursing care. Nurses had expectations likely to impede relationship building and collaborative care. Implications arising include the need for improved knowledge about psychiatric conditions and for access to professional development in targeted therapeutic communication skills. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 35:200–213, 2012