Confirming mental health care in acute psychiatric wards, as narrated by persons experiencing psychotic illness: an interview study

BMC Nurs. 2016 Jan 13:15:3. doi: 10.1186/s12912-016-0126-x. eCollection 2016.


Background: It is important that mental health nurses meet the safety, security and care needs of persons suffering from psychotic illness to enhance these persons' likelihood of feeling better during their time in acute psychiatric wards. Certain persons in care describe nurses' mental health care as positive, whereas others report negative experiences and express a desire for improvements. There is limited research on how persons with psychotic illness experience nurses' mental health care acts and how such acts help these persons feel better. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore, describe and understand how the mental health nurses in acute psychiatric wards provide care that helps persons who experienced psychotic illness to feel better, as narrated by these persons.

Method: This study had a qualitative design; 12 persons participated in qualitative interviews. The interviews were transcribed, content analysed and interpreted using Martin Buber's concept of confirmation.

Results: The results of this study show three categories of confirming mental health care that describe what helped the participants to feel better step-by-step: first, being confirmed as a person experiencing psychotic illness in need of endurance; second, being confirmed as a person experiencing psychotic illness in need of decreased psychotic symptoms; and third, being confirmed as a person experiencing psychotic illness in need of support in daily life. The underlying meaning of the categories and of subcategories were interpreted and formulated as the theme; confirming mental health care to persons experiencing psychotic illness.

Conclusion: Confirming mental health care acts seem to help persons to feel better in a step-wise manner during psychotic illness. Nurses' openness and sensitivity to the changing care needs of persons who suffer from psychotic illness create moments of confirmation within caring acts that concretely help the persons to feel better and that may enhance their health. The results show the importance of taking the experiential knowledge of persons who have experienced psychotic illness seriously to develop and increase the quality of mental health care in acute psychiatric wards.

Keywords: Acute psychotic illness; Confirmation; Mental health nursing care; Narrative; Qualitative research.