Novice nurses' experiences in provision of mental ill health care within a regional emergency department: A descriptive qualitative study

Talitha Peart, Debra Kerr, Adam Searby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Emergency departments are often the first point of contact for individuals presenting to healthcare services for assistance and treatment for mental ill health. Emergency departments, particularly those in regional areas, can experience high staff turnover and rely on novice nurses for workforce sustainability. The aim of this paper is to explore the experiences of novice nurses (nurses with <3 years of experience) in providing care to individuals presenting with mental ill health in the emergency department. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with novice nurses (N = 13) in a regional emergency department, using qualitative description as the guiding framework. The following three main themes were identified: (i) confidence in providing quality and safe nursing care, (ii) perceived barriers to providing quality and safe nursing care, and (iii) factors that increase confidence. Our findings indicate that proving safe and appropriate nursing care is affected in novice nurses by factors that lead to a perceived lack of confidence, such as how individuals present to the emergency department (e.g. intoxicated or violent), an inability to conduct conversations to assess accurately and perceived shortfalls in the emergency department environment itself. Future research should examine the curriculum for relevance of undergraduate education regarding acute mental health presentations and develop training strategies that enhance communication with individuals who present to the emergency department with mental ill health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-468
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • emergency medical services
  • emergency service
  • hospital
  • mental health
  • novice nurses
  • nursing staf
  • qualitative

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