Does training in psychosocial interventions reduce burnout rates in forensic nurses?


Paula Ewers, CBT-Scott Clinic, Rainhill Road, St Helens, Merseyside WA9 5BD, UK. E-mail:


Does training in psychosocial interventions reduce burnout rates in forensic nurses?

Background. Mental Health Nurses working in secure environments with patients suffering from serious mental illness have been shown to be at risk of clinical burnout syndrome, this can have adverse effects both on the nurses' health and the standards of care that they deliver.

Aim. To evaluate the effect of Psychosocial Intervention Training (PSI) on the knowledge, attitudes and levels of clinical burnout in a group of forensic mental health nurses.

Design. Baseline assessments of knowledge, attitude and burnout were completed by asking a group of 33 nurses working in a medium secure psychiatric unit to complete questionnaires. Twenty of the nurses volunteered to be included in a PSI training course and were randomly allocated either to receive the training or to a waiting list control group. The duration of the training was 6 months and on completion subjects in the experimental and control group completed the questionnaires again.

Results. Staff in the experimental group showed significant improvements in their knowledge and attitudes about serious mental illness and a significant decrease in burnout rates, whilst staff in the control group showed a small but nonsignificant improvement in knowledge and attitudes, and increase in burnout.

Conclusion. The findings suggest that providing forensic mental health nurses with a better understanding of serious mental illness and training them in a broader range of interventions, helps them to be more positive in their attitudes towards the clients that they work with and experience less negative effects of stress resulting from their caring role. The implications of this study for clinical practice and future research will be discussed.