Assessing change in knowledge and attitudes of student nurses in Calabar towards mental disorders following an educational program
Background: Knowledge of mental disorders is poor in developing countries and often has a negative impact on the ways the public relate to persons with mental disorders. The present study seeks to explore changes in knowledge and attitude of student nurses to mental disorders following an educational program.
Materials / Method: The study involved first and second-year students from two schools of basic nursing: the State School of Nursing, Calabar (intervention group) and the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital's School of Nursing (control). A total of 191 students from both schools were assessed at different times (pre and post-intervention periods) using the modified World Psychiatric Association (WPA) questionnaire. The educational intervention was performed only on the students in the intervention group using the WPA semi-structured educational material.
Results: The baseline results show that while a small proportion of the respondents (28.1% in the intervention group and 37.9% of control) attributed the cause of mental illness to witchcraft, majority had poor attitudes to mental disorders. One week post-intervention assessment shows some improvement in knowledge of the respondents in the intervention group. This improvement was significant for those that endorsed witchcraft (P=0.01) and God's punishment (P=0.01) as causes of mental disorders. This significant improvement was sustained at the one-month post-intervention assessment.
Conclusion: The study shows that an educational program is capable of improving knowledge of aetiology of mental disorders and attitudes towards persons with such disorders.
Keywords: Knowledge, Attitudes, Mental disorders, Student nurses, Calabar