Training Practice Nurses to Care for People With Severe Mental Illness to Reduce the Risk of Cardio-metabolic Disease


  • S. Hardy
  • J.W. Huber


Background: People with severe mental illness (SMI) have poorer physical health and die at a younger age than the general population, due to a high risk of cardiovascular disease and a threefold increased risk of developing diabetes. Practice nurses presently have little contact with people with SMI but are skilled in providing care for people with long term physical conditions. We report on the evaluation of a novel four hour course for practice nurses to provide appropriate screening and lifestyle advice for this disadvantaged group. Methods: The course designed for practice nurses was offered on 12 occasions to practice nurses (n=105). Mental health nurses were also invited to attend. The course covered the need for glucose testing as part of the annual screening for all patients. Practice nurses’ perceived knowledge and skills were measured pre and post training using questionnaires. Findings: Perceived knowledge of physical care for people with SMI and related skills improved significantly (pre: mean 27.2, SD 6.9, SEM .85; post: mean 38.5, SD 4.7, SEM .57, p<0.0005). Responses to open-ended questions and an e-mail questionnaire around 2 months after the training indicated that many nurses improved their practise. Discussion: The short course has made a difference to practice nurses’ self-perceived knowledge and skills, and facilitated changes to daily practise.