Exploring the nurses' perceptions about their provision of mental health care to people living with HIV/AIDS in Blantyre District, Malawi.
Background. People living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) are not always cared for by nurses who are competent to deal with mental health problems (MHP) in Blantyre district, Malawi. Little is known regarding nurses’ perceptions about their ability to provide mental health care in the district’s general settings. Purpose. The purpose of the study was to explore nurses’ perceptions about their provision of mental health care to PLWHA in Blantyre district. Methodology. A quantitative study was conducted to explore nurses’ perceptions about their provision of mental health care to PLWHA in Blantyre. Permission was granted by relevant authorities to conduct the study. Between March and April 2010, 165 nurses were randomly sampled from all wards and other departments at a central hospital and five selected health centres. They gave a written consent before joining the study. 151 questionnaires which were completed at participant’s convenient time were personally collected. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse data and nonparametric tests were also used to explore associations amongst variables. Findings. This study found that nurses’ perceptions about their provision of mental health care to PLWHA vary. Most nurses reported positive perceptions about caring for PLWHA who have MHP in general settings although some had negative perceptions. It was apparent that a relationship exists between nurses’ willingness to deal with MHP and perceptions about their knowledge, skills and access to support from mental health specialist. The perceived lack of knowledge, skills and support from mental health specialists were identified as reducing nurses’ ability to provide relevant mental health care to PLWHA. Conclusion. Conclusively, it is logical to say that the more support nurses receive from mental health specialists, the more knowledgeable and skilled they will become in dealing with MHP and, consequently, these nurses may demonstrate more willingness to deal with MHP of PLWHA.