Aim: To evaluate the effect of an education programme on nurses' knowledge, attitude and competence on suicide prevention and management for patients with suicide attempt or ideation and their family members; and to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the programme from the participants' perspectives.
Background: Providing care for patients with suicidal ideation or after suicidal acts in general hospitals often poses particular challenges for general nurses. Education programme may help these nurses acquire appropriate attitude, knowledge and competence in suicide prevention and intervention.
Design: An 18-hour education programme on suicide prevention and management was developed based on needs analysis and literature and was provided to the study group. Fifty-four registered general nurses from the medical and surgical units of two general hospitals completed the education programme. Focus groups were used for process (n = 24) and outcome evaluation (n = 18).
Results: Findings suggested that the education intervention had benefited the participants by improving their attitude, confidence and professional skills in responding to patients with suicidal intent.
Conclusion: Barriers in the practice environment influenced nurses' abilities to give optimal care to this group of patients and their family members.
Relevance to clinical practice: This study identified the essential content in an education intervention for prevention and management of suicide by frontline nurses and helped to understand the difficulties that nurses' encountered in practice.