Communication and information needs of a random sample of community psychiatric nurses in the United Kingdom


Dr Walid K.H. Fakhoury, Lecturer/Social Scientist, Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, St Bartholomew's & the Royal London Medical School, Academic Unit – East Ham Memorial Hospital, Shrewsbury Road, London E7 8QR, England.


Communication and information needs of a random sample of community psychiatric nurses in the United Kingdom

This paper reports on a cross-sectional survey investigating communication and information needs of community psychiatric nurses attached to community mental health teams in the United Kingdom. Community psychiatric nurses’ access to and communication with other professionals was also assessed. In total, 200 teams were randomly sampled UK-wide, and postal questionnaires were sent to community psychiatric nurses attached to these teams; 110 questionnaires were completed and returned (55% response rate). Spearman's rho, Pearson's correlation and the chi-square test were used in bivariate analyses and multiple logistic regression in multivariate analysis. Participants reported to be mainly in contact with psychiatrists (71%) and other community psychiatric nurses (52%). Eighty-four per cent and 91% reported psychiatrists and community psychiatric nurses, respectively, to be quite/extremely helpful when consulted; the proportions were lower for general practitioners and counsellors/therapists (32% and 31%, respectively). All reported lack of time and 84% reported communication problems with other professionals as barriers to their work. Although 70% reported having the necessary training/skills for managing severe cases, 76% indicated they had information needs. Being a long-serving community psychiatric nurse (OR=4·51, 95% CI=1·06–19·20), perceiving the discussion of cases with other professionals as less helpful (OR=4·82, 95% CI=1·16–20·01), being mainly in contact with other CPNs (OR=6·72, 95% CI=1·21–37·15), reporting not having the necessary training/skills (OR=7·78, 95% CI=1·37–44·25), and wanting information on mental health law (OR=12·27, 95% CI=1·75–86·36) were significant predictors of having information needs. This survey provided valuable information on problems facing these nurses and highlighted the need for training and for easier access to and increased communication with other professionals.