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Nord J Psychiatry. 2010 Oct;64(5):334-9. doi: 10.3109/08039481003675076.

Patient education practices in psychiatric hospital wards: a national survey in Finland.

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University of Turku, Department of Nursing Science/Municipality of Imatra, Hospital District of South Carelia, Finland.



Despite the fact that patients' receiving of information is one of the fundamental rights of patients, there is still limited information available on how patient education is carried out in psychiatric healthcare organizations.


The aim of this study was to describe patient education practices in adult acute psychiatric hospitals.


A descriptive questionnaire survey was administered in all adult acute psychiatric wards in Finland. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics and qualitative content analysis.


A total of 55 head nurses participated in the study (response rate 60%). The content of patient education covered almost all investigated informational areas and patient education was mostly carried out orally and with leaflets. However, patients' individual needs for certain communication methods were not met. Moreover, staff rarely received adequate on-the-job training. In the study wards, there were only few systematic procedures and instructions regarding patient education. Problems relating to the delivery of patient education were described in four themes: patients' poor condition, lack of staff resources, discrepancies in procedures and poor operational conditions.


Patient education in psychiatric hospitals covers the informational areas investigated. However, there are numerous quality gaps in the realization of patient education in psychiatric hospitals. The results of this study suggest that to ensure patients' right to receive information, specific guidelines and instructions are needed for psychiatric patients. These guidelines and instructions should thoroughly consider different domains of patient education including content, communication methods, definition of patient's individual needs and delivery personnel.

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