Theses Doctoral

Nurses' Attitudes Toward Mental Illness

de Jacq, Krystyna

This dissertation consists of three studies to assess nurses’ attitudes toward persons with mental illness. The first study was an integrative review of literature which revealed that surveyed nurses across 20 countries and three continents had mixed attitudes toward people with mental illness. While those attitudes mirrored attitudes of the general public and health providers in the United States, none of the identified studies explored nurses’ attitudes toward people with mental illness in the United States and none included a theoretical framework, showing several gaps in knowledge. Therefore, in the second paper of this dissertation two leading theories regarding stigma were analyzed and compared in order to select the best theoretical framework to guide a survey of psychiatric nurses’ attitudes toward the mentally ill, which comprises the third study of this dissertation. The Modified Labeling Theory (MLT) and the Cognitive Behavioral Models (CBM) were analyzed and evaluated. Since the MLT had strong empirical evidence, it was selected to guide the quantitative study that explored nurses’ attitudes toward people with mental illness. This exploration of 146 mental health workers and registered nurses’ attitudes in a 270-bed psychiatric hospital in New York examined three areas: it assessed respondents’ beliefs about devaluation and discrimination of people with mental illness and factors related to these beliefs; compared respondents’ expressed stigmatizing actions toward patients with schizophrenia or depression versus those with diabetes but no mental illness; and it assessed the extent to which study results were consistent with the theoretical underpinnings of the MLT. In general, respondents expressed the belief that people with mental illness would be devaluated and discriminated and expressed stronger desire for social distance from a person with schizophrenia than depression. Even though the respondents did not express a desire for social distance from a person with depression, they indicated their preference to be closer to a person with diabetes. Finally, the results of the study were consistent with the theoretical underpinnings of the MLT, confirming that the MLT is appropriate for use as a guiding theoretical framework for future research in nursing. Implications for future research, nursing education and practice are discussed.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Larson, Elaine
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 12, 2018