Mental ill-health among adult patients at healthcare centres in Sweden: district nurses experiences

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BACKGROUND: Mental ill-health among the general population is increasing in Sweden. Primary Health Care (PHC) and Healthcare Centres (HCC), where district nurses (DNs) work, bear the basic responsibility for treatment of mental ill-health, while severe mental ill-health fall under the responsibility of psychiatric specialist care. The increased prevalence of mental ill-health in the community means that DNs increasingly encounter people with mental health problems - not least as a comorbidity. How well DNs are equipped to deal with mental ill-health is currently unclear.

AIM: The purpose of this study was to explore district nurses' experience of encountering and dealing with mental ill-health among adult patients at healthcare centres.

DESIGN: A qualitative explorative approach was used to capture the experiences of the phenomena under study.

METHODS: Individual interviews were conducted with 10 DNs working at six HCCs. The interviews were transcribed and analysed by qualitative content analysis.

RESULTS: The result emerged as several subcategories captured by three categories: (i) having competence - a prerequisite for feeling confident; (ii) nursing mental ill-health requires time and commitment; and (iii) working in an organisation without preparedness, encompassed by the synthesising theme; nursing mental ill-health requires specific competence and organisational support.

CONCLUSION: Working as a DN requires formal and informal competence when encountering patients with complex health needs. The findings revealed that the DNs could feel insecure regarding how to deal with patients with mental ill-health due to lack of knowledge. Assessment of patients with mental ill-health is time- and energy-consuming and calls for improved teamwork at HCCs as well as effective collaboration with psychiatric specialist care and other care givers. The DNs responsibility to fulfil their work considering the increasing number of mental ill-health among people that seeks help at HCCs needs to be acknowledged and met by the PHC organisation.

Sidor (från-till)987-996
Antal sidor9
TidskriftScandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences
StatusPublicerad - 2017

Nationell ämneskategori

  • Medicin och hälsovetenskap (3)


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