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Contemp Nurse. 2006 Feb-Mar;21(1):43-9.

Attitudes of registered psychiatric nurses towards patients diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

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University of Ballarat and Ballarat Health Services, Ballarat, and North West Health Care Network, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parksville, Victoria, Australia.


Caring for patients with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) has been identified as a problem area for mental health professionals with some studies suggesting that a diagnosis of BPD will influence the level and quality of interaction staff have with patients. It is inherent to psychiatric nursing that practitioners are able to establish rapport, develop trust and demonstrate empathy with consumers of mental health services. Despite the importance of this issue for psychiatric nurses and for consumers, the perceptions and attitudes of psychiatric nurses towards patients diagnosed with BPD have received almost no research attention. This paper describes findings from a study of attitudes held by 65 registered nurses employed in a psychiatric inpatient unit and psychiatric community service where individuals with a DSM-IV diagnosis of BPD received treatment. In particular, findings relating to Clinical Description, Emotional Reactions, Concerns and Management of patients with BPD are reported. Results show that a proportion of psychiatric nurses experience negative emotional reactions and attitudes toward people with BPD with the majority of nurses perceiving people with BPD as manipulative, almost one third reporting that patients with BPD made them angry and over one third either 'strongly disagreed' or 'disagreed' that they know how to care for people with BPD. Although psychiatric nurses face many challenges in providing care for patients with BPD, it is also of concern to the profession that one of the problems confronting people with BPD is the negative attitudes of those staff that care for them. Further research is necessary to identify appropriate service frameworks and clinical interventions that assist in more effective clinical management of clients of BPD.

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