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Keywords:

  • conflict resolution;
  • negotiation;
  • nurses;
  • nursing;
  • personality disorder;
  • psychopathy

Aim and objective.  To understand better the skills and competencies for forensic and non-forensic nursing of psychopathic and personality disordered patients.

Background.  In the UK, there has been growing interest in service provision for this client group, but with little research to support the nursing skills required.

Design.  A non-experimental design, using a postal survey to 990 forensic and 500 non-forensic nurses.

Method.  An information gathering schedule was used to generate data about the most desirable skills and competencies and least desirable weaknesses and nursing attributes to nurse this group.

Results.  The results for the forensic nurses. Main strengths and skills: being firm, setting limits and defining boundaries. Main weaknesses: inability to engage, inability to resolve conflict and impatience. Main skills and competencies: being non-threatening, non-judgemental and able to expect anything. Least desirable qualities: over-reacting, being judgemental and over-confrontational. The results for the non-forensic nurses. Main strengths and skills: being non-judgemental, listening skills and good risk assessment. Main weaknesses: frustration with the system, a fear of aggression and no skills to engage. Main skills and competencies: being open-minded, non-judgemental and forming relationships. Least desirable qualities: a supercilious attitude, cynicism and being judgemental.

Conclusion.  The results highlight the importance of forming therapeutic relationships as the bedrock of both forensic and non-forensic nursing, and they also highlight the important differences with regard to the significance of therapeutic action and therapeutic verbal interaction.

Relevance to clinical practice.  The provision of better care for this client group will rely on appropriate training for nurses. This research highlights the need for training that supports the development of engagement skills, communication skills and an ability to use reflection in action as a means of providing therapeutic care. It also highlights the different emphasis on the use of these skills by forensic and non-forensic nurses.