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

  • Marwa Abd El-Gawad Mousa
  • Laila Ossman
Keywords: Attitudes, mental illness, nursing students, psychiatric nursing educational experience


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.