Description of psychiatric nursing students' stereotypical beliefs associated with mental illness labels and the potential mediating effects of information and contact.
Aim To describe psychiatric nursing students‟ stereotypical beliefs associated with mental illness labels and the potential mediating effects of information provided from curriculum content and contact through clinical placement. Methodology Four nursing campuses were sampled, resulting in one hundred and thirty two (n=132) participants. Participants remained the same for all three phases of the repeated measure. A quantitative approach, non-experimental survey design with repeated measures made use of a self-report questionnaire. Section A included demographic data (age, gender and cultural group), while Section B consisted of a semantic differential measure (SDM) focusing on three mental illness labels; schizophrenia, major depressive disorder and bipolar mood disorder. Data was collected on the first day of the psychiatric nursing training block, the last day of the training block, and the first day of the second training block, after approximately six weeks of clinical placement in specialist psychiatric settings. Results Participant scores suggested greater negative stereotypical beliefs associated with the schizophrenia label in all the three phases of data collection. The bipolar mood disorder label was the least associated with negative stereotypical beliefs. Information given during the initial teaching block and contact during the clinical placement period resulted in a slight reduction of negative stereotypical beliefs associated with the schizophrenic label. In contrast negative stereotypical beliefs associated with the bipolar mood disorder label were increased slightly after information and contact. Conclusion and recommendation The results of the study confirmed that health care professionals are not different from the general population in their negative stereotypical beliefs towards mental illness labels. A review of the proposed new nursing curriculum should specifically include emphasis on psychosocial rehabilitation. In addition, clinical placement of the student nurses must be designed to ensure interaction with mental health care users engaged in recovery and community integration to remove perceptions of inability to recover associated with mental illness labels (Adewuya & Oguntade, 2007; Adewuya & Makanjuola, 2008; Corrigan, 2007; Smith, 2010).