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Home > Measuring emergency department nurses’ attitudes towards deliberate self-harm using the Self-Harm Antipathy Scale.

Conlon, Mary and O'Tuathail, Claire (2012) Measuring emergency department nurses’ attitudes towards deliberate self-harm using the Self-Harm Antipathy Scale. International Emergency Nursing , 20 , (1) , pp. 3-13. doi: 10.1016/j.ienj.2010.08.001.

The emergency department is an important gateway for the treatment of self-harm patients. Nurses’ attitudes towards patients who self-harm can be negative and often nurses experience frustration, helplessness, ambivalence and antipathy. Patients are often dissatisfied with the care provided, and meeting with positive or negative attitudes greatly influences whether they seek additional help.

A quantitative design was utilised to measure emergency department nurses’ attitudes towards deliberate self-harm. The ‘Self-Harm Antipathy Scale’, a validated questionnaire, was administered to a random sample of nurses in four emergency departments in the Republic of Ireland. A total of 87 questionnaires were returned (87% response rate). Results reveal that nurses show slightly negative antipathy overall, indicating positive attitudes towards self-harming patients. Attitudes were significantly different in accordance with a nurse’s age. Education and social judgment also contribute to the way nurses view, interact and make moral decisions regarding self-harm patients.

Evidence indicates there is need to improve the training, supervision and support of nurses caring for patients who self-harm, and that practical strategies should be implemented to manage the alienation process and inform practice.


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