Effect of Concentrated Psychiatric Education on Perceived Competence to Care for Behavioral Health Patients

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Abstract

Abstract Introduction

Increasing numbers of behavioral patients are presenting to emergency departments, where competency of staff to care for this group is unknown.

Methods

This pre-post study measured the effects of a 7-hour conference on perceived competency of nurses and allied health professionals to care for behavioral health (BH) patients, as measured by the 23-item Behavioral Health Care Competency (BHCC) survey.

Results

Of 102 participants, most were emergency nurses (72%), acute care nurses and case managers (20%), and allied health personnel (trauma technicians and paramedics) (8%). Before the conference, participants had moderate average perceived competency in caring for BH patients. BHCC scores differed significantly by job category, with emergency nurses scoring higher than did nonemergency nurses and allied health personnel. Overall competence of participants increased significantly after the conference. The effect size, as reflected by partial eta squared, was 0.265. Significant increases in scores from before to after the conference occurred for the total BHCC and 2 competencies: practice/intervention and resource adequacy.

Discussion

This study provides needed research demonstrating improved perceived competency of nurses and allied health professionals to care for BH patients in emergency departments after brief concentrated education. Improvements occurred despite the fact that participants had initial baseline competencies that were higher than those of general hospital nurses from a historical sample.

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