A description of mental health care practitioners and a mental health care director's perceptions of mental health care nurses obtaining prescription authority in eThekwini district KwaZulu-Natal.
Aim To explore Mental Health Care Practitioners and a Mental Health Care Directors perceptions of mental health care nurses obtaining prescription authority in eThekwini District KwaZulu-Natal. Methodology A qualitative design was used to gather data through individual interviews and a focus group interview. Purposive sampling was used to select the study setting (five (5) Out Patient Departments, two (2) Community Health Centres, one (1) tertiary educational institution, and one district office), potential participants were not sampled. Participants included; twenty six mental health care nurses (n=26), one (1) psychiatrist (n=1), four (4) medical officers (n=4) and one (n=1) mental health care director. Thematic analysis using the steps outlined by Braun and Clark (2006) was used to analyse the data. Results The majority of participants were not aware of policies or legislation allowing nurses to prescribe medication. Participating mental health care nurses from an education setting were more knowledgeable than other participants about current legislation and policy. Study findings indicate that nurses’ obtaining prescriptive authority is not on the provincial department of health agenda. In addition, participating ppsychiatrists and medical officers expressed reservations about nurses obtaining prescriptive authority, specifically independent prescriptive authority. Participating mental health nurses displayed ambivalence related to the pursuit of prescriptive authority. Conclusion and Recommendations The challenge for mental health nurses is suggested to be the achievement of a collaborative working relationship within the discipline of nursing, and between the discipline of nursing and medicine / psychiatry. It is suggested mental health care directors, and the SANC, be proactive, look to the future in advising the health minister about access and barriers to mental health care treatment. In addition, the SANC champion the nurse, specifically the mental health care nurse in obtaining prescriptive authority for schedule 5-6 psychotropic medications. Further research is required to generate more in-depth data, specifically research that explores mental health care nurses’ reluctance to pursue prescriptive authority.
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