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Title: A qualitative study of mental health nurses' experiences of patient suicide or unexpected death and its aftermath
Author: Shanley, Oliver
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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There has been an absence of research that explores the combined effect of experiencing a patient’s suicide or unexpected death and the subsequent process of professional scrutiny that frequently follows such a death. This is a qualitative study utilising constructivist grounded theory that explores the experience of fifteen mental health nurses from four NHS trusts and their response to a patient suicide or unexpected death. The study considers how the death and the resultant process of professional scrutiny affected the nurses both professionally and, for some, personally. This research is placed within the context of what is known regarding the effects of professional scrutiny, the psychological impact of adverse events, and the broader concepts of responses to adverse events referred to as ’second victim’ phenomenon (Wu and Steckelberg 2012). The findings of this study identified several areas that demonstrate the impact of an unexpected death or suicide on the nurses. The participants all experienced varying degrees of psychological distress, which for two were similar to experiences more normally associated with post-traumatic stress disorders. The psychological response to the distress of the death and process of scrutiny was similar to that found in second victim studies. However the nurses in this group did not believe they had made an error, often a factor associated with second victim studies. The study found that the type of relationship with the service user is an important denominator in determining how the nurse reacts to the death. The process of professional scrutiny further compounds this. Nurses’ report that they are unable to find psychological closure until the scrutiny, particularly the coroners hearing, has concluded.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available