Exploratory study of mental health consultation-liaison nursing in Australia: Part 1 demographics and role characteristics

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Mental health nursing roles in Consultation-Liaison (CL) psychiatry and emergency departments are rapidly developing within Australia since the mainstreaming of mental health services within the general health-care system. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many of these positions have been initiated and developed in relative isolation and with little formalized support. Consequently, a comprehensive understanding of these roles and the nurses who occupy them is limited. A survey was developed and distributed to gather information on CL nurses in Australia. The survey was aimed at CL nurses working in a range of settings and included questions relating to demographics, qualifications, experience, clinical practice, organizational structure, education, clinical supervision, education and training and work satisfaction. This, the first of a two-part paper, will present the key findings relating to demographics and characteristics of the role. Overall, the findings demonstrated that the CL nurses who responded to the survey (n = 56) were experienced psychiatric/mental health nurses working primarily in general hospital wards and/or emergency departments; receive requests for consultation from a range of health professionals but predominantly nurses; provide education to a range of staff groups; and use a range of titles to identify their role.

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