Physical Health Monitoring In Mental Health Settings: A Study Exploring Mental Health Nurses’ Views Of Their Role

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Physical Health Monitoring In Mental Health Settings: A Study Exploring Mental Health Nurses’ Views Of Their Role

UniversityJournal of Clinical Nursing (JCN)
SubjectPhysical Health Monitoring In Mental Health Settings

Aims and objectives:

To explore nurses’ views of their role in the screening and monitoring of the physical care needs of people with serious mental illness in a mental health service provider


There is increasing awareness through research that people with serious mental illness disproportionately experience and die early from physical health conditions. Mental health nurses are best placed as front-line workers to offer screening, monitoring and interventions; however, their views on physical care interventions are not studied often.

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The study was carried out in a mental health inpatient centre in England. Volunteer sampling was adopted for the study with a total target sample of (n = 20) nurses from three inpatient wards. Semistructured interviews were conducted with (n = 10) registered mental health nurses who had consented to take part in the study. Inductive data analysis and theme development were guided by a thematic analytic framework.


Participants shared a clear commitment regarding their role regarding physical health screening and monitoring in mental health settings. Four themes emerged as follows: features of current practice and physical health monitoring; perceived barriers to physical health monitoring; education and training needs; and strategies to improve physical health monitoring


Nurses were unequivocal in their resolve to ensure good standard physical health monitoring and screening interventions in practice. However, identified obstacles have to be addressed to ensure that physical health screening and monitoring is integrated adequately in everyday clinical activities. Achieving this would require improvements in nurses’ training, and an integrated multiservice and team-working approach.

Relevance to clinical practice:

Attending to the physical health needs of people with serious mental illness has been associated with multiple improvements in both mental and physical health; nurses have a vital role to play in identifying and addressing causes of poor physical health to improve physical health outcomes in people with serious mental illness.

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