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Int J Ment Health Nurs. 2012 Jun;21(3):202-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1447-0349.2011.00799.x.

Should we or shouldn't we? Mental health nurses' views on physical health care of mental health consumers.

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Institute for Health and Social Science Research, and School of Nursing and Midwifery, Central Queensland University Australia, Bruce Highway, Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia.


People diagnosed with a mental illness experience poorer physical health than the general population. Nurses have been identified for their potential role in addressing physical health needs of consumers of mental health services. This paper reports on preliminary findings of a qualitative study on health-care services for physical and mental health in a regional area in Australia. A key purpose of the study was to explore the perceptions of nurses working in mental health settings of their physical care with consumers. A qualitative, exploratory approach was undertaken. Semi-structured focus groups were conducted with 38 nurses from one mental health service. Nurse participants described a common co-occurrence of physical problems and mental illness and expressed the importance of health-care services to treatment and prevention. Participants expressed divergent views on nurses' capacity to contribute to better health-care processes.

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