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Int Nurs Rev. 2011 Sep;58(3):361-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1466-7657.2011.00883.x. Epub 2011 May 23.

A survey of psychiatrists' and registered nurses' levels of mental health literacy in a Chinese general hospital.

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Department of Nursing, Melbourne School of Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Carlton, Victoria, Australia.



Mental health literacy (MHL) is the term used to describe people's knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders which aid in the recognition, management or the prevention of illness. Health professionals' levels of MHL will shape the therapeutic relationship in which they work in partnership with patients. Studies have been conducted in Australia and Singapore to determine levels of MHL among members of the general public and health professionals. To date, no such studies have been published in Chinese populations.


The study aims to compare levels of MHL between registered nurses and psychiatrists in a Chinese general hospital. The paper reports participants' diagnosis and beliefs about interventions used to manage depression and schizophrenia.


A descriptive cross-sectional survey was undertaken among a group of psychiatrists and registered nurses in the psychiatric department of one large teaching hospital in China (n=70). Participants completed the survey by rating written vignettes related to depression and schizophrenia.


The psychiatrists were highly accurate in correctly diagnosing both depression and schizophrenia; the registered nurses were less so for diagnosing depression. In terms of treatment options, the two groups reached a broad agreement on beliefs about the use of mental health interventions, but differed significantly in the use of some specific mental health interventions.


This study provides preliminary information about levels of MHL among Chinese mental health professionals and describes their attitudes towards the helpfulness of interventions used to restore mental health and well-being. Future large-scale studies are required to identify factors that influence beliefs about the use of mental health interventions. The findings have implications for further education of registered nurses in the specialization of mental health nursing in China.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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