Baccalaureate Nursing Students' Attitudes toward Patients with Mental Illness: Impact of Psychiatric Nursing and Mental Health Educational Experience

Document Type : Research articles


Psychiatric Nursing and Mental Health, Faculty of Nursing, Alexandria University


The general public and even many health professionals, including nurses, tend to hold
a stereotyped image of those with mental illness. It is well documented that undergraduate
nursing students can hold negative attitudes toward people with mental illness that can be
positively impacted and manipulated by proper psychiatric nursing education. Objective: This
study aimed to assess the change in baccalaureate nursing students' attitudes toward patients
with mental illness before and after psychiatric nursing and mental health educational
experience. Setting: The study was conducted at the Faculty of Nursing, Alexandria
University. Subjects: Subjects comprised 184 students who where registered in the eighth
semester of the academic year 2012-2013. Tools: Tools used to collect data for this study
were a Student's Socio-demographic Characteristics and Previous Experience with Mental
Illness Questionnaire and Community Attitudes toward the Mentally Ill (CAMI) Scale.
Results: It was found that around two thirds of students showed improvement in their
attitudes related to authoritarianism and social restrictiveness, while more than half showed
improvement in benevolence and community mental health ideology after completing
psychiatric nursing educational experience. Conclusion: Psychiatric nursing and mental
health educational experience can bring significant improvements in students' attitudes
toward patients with mental illness. Recommendations: Considering students' attitudes
toward patients with mental illness while designing psychiatric nursing curricula at all
Egyptian faculties of nursing is essential. Future researches are also required to study what
other factors probably contributed to the change in these attitudes.