Perceptions of learning disability nurses and support staff towards people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia


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Abstract

Accessible summaryWhat is known about the subject?People with learning disability are more likely than the general population to develop schizophrenia.Personal recovery philosophies are based on positive attitudes and an optimism that recognizes and values people and their strengths and capacity to achieve goals.Little is known from previous studies about the illness perceptions of learning disability practitioners who work with people that experience both a learning disability and schizophrenia.The illness beliefs of learning disability practitioners about schizophrenia may mediate the potential for social exclusion and limit recovery outcomes.What this study/paper adds to existing knowledge?The findings show that the illness beliefs of learning disability practitioners and support workers regarding schizophrenia are pessimistic in terms of the consequences for people with schizophrenia and learning disability and their relatives as well as the chronic course of the illness.What are the implications for clinical practice?This study identifies the nature of LD practitioner perceptions about schizophrenia and provides guidance about how personal recovery philosophies can be applied to the management of LD and schizophrenia.The beliefs of learning disability practitioners and support workers regarding schizophrenia need to be reframed to support better recovery outcomes and social inclusion for this group.The findings from this study can inform the development of training in bio-psycho-social models of schizophrenia, recovery approaches, family/carer interventions, clinical supervision, mentorship and reflection on clinical practice, which could be potentially useful strategies to help facilitate a reframing of beliefs.Background and purpose of study:The prevalence of schizophrenia in people with learning disability is 3–4%. This is the first study to investigate the illness perceptions of learning disability (LD) practitioners towards people with schizophrenia.Methods:Learning disability practitioners (n = 210) that work with people with LD and schizophrenia completed a modified version of the Illness Perception Questionnaire Schizophrenia Carers Version (IPQ-SCV). Descriptive and correlational analyses were conducted for all of the IPQ-SCV subscales.Results:A significant positive correlation was found between consequences relative and consequences patient (0.495, P < 0.001), and a negative correlation was found between timeline episodic and timeline chronic (−0.243, P < 0.001) subscales.Discussion:Consistent with previous evidence found regarding negative staff attitudes to schizophrenia recovery outcomes, course and chronicity, the current investigation has extended and confirmed these observations to staff working with individuals with comorbid schizophrenia and learning disability.Implications for practice:This study identifies the nature of LD practitioner perceptions about schizophrenia and contributes to the development of the recovery philosophy in relation to the management of LD and schizophrenia. The findings inform the design of training modules in bio-psycho-social models of schizophrenia, recovery approaches, family intervention, clinical supervision and reflection. These can help LD practitioners to reframe their schizophrenia/LD illness beliefs.

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