Perceptions and experiences of emergency nurses’ when caring for patients with mental health issues in emergency departments: A qualitative study

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Despite 309,657 patients with mental health issues presenting to Australian emergency departments (EDs) for care, little is known about how emergency nurses perceive and experience their role caring for them.
To explore emergency nurses’ perceptions and experiences of caring for patients with mental health issues in the emergency department.
Using Braun and Clarke’s thematic analysis framework, we undertook semi-structured interviews with seven emergency nurses. Interviews were conducted via videoconference and recordings transcribed verbatim, enabling analysis through a recursive process to uncover emergent sub-themes and themes.
Analysis revealed seven sub-themes that were further grouped into three themes. These included: Challenges of care; some participants worried their care could induce trauma for patients with mental health issues and believed patients’ lack of awareness of their legal rights was used to prevent them from leaving EDs. The fear of not knowing; participants were concerned about their knowledge gaps, with most wanting more training to therapeutically care for patients with mental health issues. Communication problems between professionals was an important theme; patient care was negatively affected by communication issues between disciplines in and outside of EDs.
Providing care for patients with mental health issues in the ED was often challenging. Participants wanted to minimise further traumatisation by better understanding how to provide therapeutic care for these patients while respecting their legal rights. Such care could only be provided if interdisciplinary communication impediments were overcome. Our findings have implications for emergency nursing education and practice that require further exploration.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2022
EventInternational Conference of Undergraduate Research 2022 -
Duration: 27 Sept 202229 Sept 2022


ConferenceInternational Conference of Undergraduate Research 2022
Abbreviated titleICUR 2022
Internet address


  • Emergency department, emergency nursing, mental health, mental health nursing; qualitative research

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