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J Am Psychiatr Nurses Assoc. 2014 Mar-Apr;20(2):125-37. doi: 10.1177/1078390314527551. Epub 2014 Mar 25.

Metasynthesis of research on the role of psychiatric inpatient nurses: what is important to staff?

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Kathleen R. Delaney, PhD, PMH-NP, FAAN, Professor, Rush College of Nursing, Chicago, IL, USA.



Inpatient psychiatric nurses are a large workforce, but their work is poorly articulated and thus poorly understood outside of the professional inpatient community.


To learn how inpatient psychiatric nurses depict their work, define important aspects of their role, and view the impact of the unit environment on their clinical practice.


Metasynthesis of research that has focused on the ideas and perceptions of inpatient psychiatric nurses around their role and practice on inpatient psychiatric units.


Three themes emerged from the analysis; the first was an umbrella for three important aspects of nursing work: the nurses' efforts to forge engagement with patients; their activities which maintained the safety of the unit and interventions nurses viewed as educating/empowering patients. The second theme captures the conditions that enabled nurses to do this work such as a cohesive nursing team and their sense of self-direction in their role. The final theme centers on difficulties nurses encountered in enacting their role which included multiple responsibilities for patient care and management of the milieu; intense work often with low visibility and scant support within the organization.


Nurses need to articulate their practice so they can assert for the staffing and resources needed to keep units safe and promote patients' well-being, strive toward quality, and promote the development of the specialty.


inpatient psychiatric nurses; inpatient psychiatric treatment; psychiatric hospitalization; qualitative metasynthesis

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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