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Effectiveness of direct contact intervention with people with mental illness to reduce stigma in nursing students [2019]

People with mental illnesses are at a higher risk than the general population of suffering from somatic diseases. However, they receive less attention from healthcare services. Some studies have indicated that this situation can be partially explained by the stigmatizing attitudes of health professionals, including nurses. With the objective to improve future nursing professionals’ attitudes towards people with mental illnesses, an intervention involving direct contact with people who had lived experience with mental illnesses was designed and its effectiveness was measured. It consisted of a single 90‐min session involving a mental health professional, a person with a mental illness, and a family member of someone with a mental illness. The intervention was based on a structured script where they described their experiences with the illness and their history of recovery, and then, they had a discussion with the attendees. The effectiveness of this approach was measured through a quasi‐experimental study with a pretest–post‐test design. The differences in the scores obtained in the AQ‐27‐E questionnaire before and after the intervention indicated that there was a decrease in fear, feelings of danger, avoidance, segregation, and coercive attitudes, while positive feelings increased, including a tendency to help and compassion. These results are important for clinical practice because this intervention could improve the quality of care provided to people with mental illnesses.

Concepción Martínez‐Martínez PhD Student Vanessa Sánchez‐Martínez PhD Rafael Sales‐Orts PhD Andra Dinca HNC Miguel Richart‐Martínez PhD Juan Diego Ramos‐Pichardo PhD
International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 28 January 2019
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