A survey of mental health nurses' experiences of stalking

J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2006 Oct;13(5):562-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2850.2006.00981.x.


Although an increasing amount of literature has appeared in recent years on the subject of stalking, little is known about mental health nurses' (MHNs) experiences of this phenomenon. The aims of the study were to investigate: (1) the incidence of stalking among a sample of MHNs in the UK; (2) who the perpetrators were; (3) the impact of stalking on MHNs; and (4) how MHNs manage their experiences. Employing a survey design, the British version of the Rutgers-Penn clinicians and stalking questionnaire was distributed to a convenience sample of 400 MHNs in the UK. Data were analysed by means of descriptive statistics and McNemar test. The findings reveal that: (1) 50% (n = 56) of MHNs who completed the questionnaire had been stalked; (2) on the whole, victims were female (78.6%) and stalkers males (82.1%); (3) stalkers were from a variety of social groups including mental health service users and MHNs; (4) victims were threatened, followed, physically assaulted and received unwanted communication; (5) MHNs reported a variety of stress-related (psychological and behavioural) responses to their experiences; and (6) employed a range of coping strategies. This study serves to raise awareness of a number of issues surrounding an under-reported phenomenon in mental health nursing and points to the need for further research to explore the reliability and consequences of the findings.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Burnout, Professional / etiology
  • Burnout, Professional / prevention & control
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Communication
  • Crime Victims / education
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Nursing Staff / education
  • Nursing Staff / organization & administration
  • Nursing Staff / psychology*
  • Occupational Health
  • Peer Group
  • Psychiatric Nursing* / education
  • Psychiatric Nursing* / organization & administration
  • Security Measures
  • Social Behavior*
  • Spouses / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology