New survey of psychiatric nurses highlights their role in patient care, professional challenges and desire to do more

According to a new survey sponsored by Janssen®, Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc, 94 percent of psychiatric nurses feel very or extremely involved in providing care for people with mental illness.

Although some psychiatric nurses believe that their specialty is as difficult as or more difficult than oncology nursing, or emergency nursing, one-third would prefer to be more involved in patient care than they are now. The survey also revealed that psychiatric nurses believe their work affects patient care, with more than 90 percent of psychiatric nurses viewing the time they spend with patients as very important to patient satisfaction with their overall healthcare experience. A majority of the nurses strongly agree that their involvement helps to achieve better outcomes for patients living with mental illness.

Results of the survey revealed that more than three-fourths of psychiatric nurses feel they are very responsible for educating patients about aspects of mental health and more than two-thirds feel a great deal of responsibility in the care of psychological problems and managing patients’ overall well-being. Additional survey findings include:

  • More than one-half of psychiatric nursing professionals would like greater participation in the treatment team and 44 percent desire more involvement in helping patients adhere to their treatment.
  • More than 90 percent feel they help to bridge any communication gap between patients and physicians.
  • Almost one-half of psychiatric nurses feel they do not have enough time to be more involved in providing healthcare for psychiatric patients.

The survey results are being presented and discussed for the first time at the American Psychiatric Nurses Association Annual Meeting in Louisville, KY, October 13-16, 2010. Several psychiatric nursing experts will present and discuss the results in front of an audience of their peers during a roundtable discussion sponsored by Janssen®. The discussion is being moderated by Dorothy E. Hill, RN, former president of APNA (2001) and a now retired psychiatric nurse after committing 40 years to the care of people with mental illness.

The survey of 102 nurse practitioners or advanced practice nurses, 102 registered nurses and 51 physician assistants had three objectives:

  • Assess the role they play in caring for mental health patients
  • Determine the impact they make in patient care
  • Identify the unmet needs and challenges the community faces in supporting mental health patients

The quantitative blinded online survey was conducted by Richard Day Research on behalf of Janssen® from December 28, 2009 to February 4, 2010. Additional information about this survey is available upon request.

“Since the National Mental Health Act of 1946 identified psychiatric nursing as a core discipline in psychiatric care and treatment, the field has evolved from providing institutional care, patient education and therapy to playing integral roles in psychopharmacology interventions and consultation liaison,” said Hill, who was most recently president and CEO of a private psychiatric hospital in Maine. “Today, more than 60 years after the passing of the National Mental Health Act, psychiatric nurses are involved in all levels of care and continue to evolve their roles within the patient treatment team.”

About Psychiatric Nursing

More than 90,000 psychiatric nurses practice in inpatient, community, academic, research, private and public health institutions, and high-level administrative positions at state and federal levels. Psychiatric mental health nurses practice at both the basic and advanced levels. At the basic level, registered nurses work with a variety of people, including individuals, families, groups, and communities. Registered nurses assess mental health needs, develop a nursing diagnosis, implement a plan of care, and following implementation, they evaluate the nursing care.

Advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) earn master’s degrees in psychiatric-mental health nursing and become either a Clinical Nurse Specialist or Nurse Practitioner. Psychiatric-mental health nursing (PMHN) is considered a specialty in nursing. In addition to the basic level responsibilities, APRNs evaluate, diagnose, and treat individuals and/or families diagnosed with psychiatric problems or disorders as well as those with the potential for mental health disorders.

About Mental Illness

An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder, which includes bipolar I disorder, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. When applied to the 2004 US Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people. Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the US and Canada. One-half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and three-quarters by age 24. Despite effective treatments, there can be long delays between the first onset of symptoms and when people seek and receive treatment.

About the Survey

The three groups surveyed specialize or spend the majority of their time in psychiatry or mental health care, contribute at least 70 percent of their time to patient care, and spend at least 10 percent of their time working with patients living with bipolar I disorder, schizophrenia, or schizoaffective disorder.

The survey was designed to uncover perspectives from nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants about their role in the patient-caregiver-HCP mental health team. With pure probability samples of these sizes, one could say with a 90 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 5.8 percent for all nursing professionals and 8.1 percent for the nurse practitioner and registered nurse subsamples. Advanced practice nurses with prescription authority are included in the nurse practitioner subsample. Margin of error will be larger for further subgroups of the sample.

About Janssen®

Janssen®, Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc, is based in Titusville, N.J., and is the only large pharmaceutical company in the U.S. dedicated solely to mental health. It currently markets prescription medications for the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar I disorder, and schizoaffective disorder. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc, is a member of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies. For more information about Janssen®, visit

Dorothy Hill serves as a paid consultant for Janssen®, Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

The material in this press release comes from the originating research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. Want more? Sign up for our daily email.