Nursing attitudes to deliberate self-harm

Carswell, C. & Noble, H. BMJ Evidence-Based Nursing blog. Published online: 6 February 2017

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Attitudes can have a significant effect on behaviour meaning that the attitudes nurses hold can have an impact on their nursing practice. Patients who self-harm report high levels of stigma and negative attitudes, stating that they have been called ‘attention seeking’ or ‘manipulative’ as a result of the self-injurious behaviour. The text Blades, Blood and Bandages tells the stories of 25 people’s experiences of self-injury and investigates how those who self-injure are ‘affected by suffering, ritual and stigma’ http://www.palgrave.com/br/book/9780230252813

These negative attitudes and beliefs have originated from not only their friends and family, but also from medical professionals and emergency department personnel following presentation for their injuries. These attitudes can be interpreted through the professional’s behaviour and can have a profound effect on the patient. They can determine whether the patient decides to stay in the hospital for assessment, treatment or referral and whether they are instilled with a sense of hope and validation which in turn can help reduce the risk of further incidents of self-harm and even suicide. Attitudes can also have a more direct impact on nursing practice, for example nurses may feel unequipped or unprepared to perform a comprehensive assessment or to refer on to specialist mental health services.

Read the full blog post here

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