Date of Graduation

Spring 2015

Document Type

Honors Research Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Major

Nursing

Research Sponsor

Lori Kidd

First Reader

Karyn Morgan

Second Reader

Christine Graor

Abstract

Many people who suffer from serious mental illness also suffer from the stigma associated with such illness. Because nurses frequently come into contact with the mentally ill, it is important that they do not stigmatize these individuals. The purpose of this study is to determine the effect of a guest lecture by an individual with a serious mental illness on attitudes about mental illness in a sample of baccalaureate nursing students. The theoretical framework that guides this study is Goffman’s (1963) theory of social stigma. The sample used for this research is a convenience sample of 50 junior level nursing students enrolled in the Mental Health Nursing course at a large public university in Midwest U.S. The Attitudes toward Mental Illness Questionnaire (AMIQ; Cunningham, Sobell, & Chow, 1993) measured attitudes and was used as a pre- and post-test before and after personal contact via guest lecture with a person with a serious mental illness. A paired t-test was used to determine differences in the means of the pre- and post-tests. The results revealed a significant improvement in baccalaureate nursing student attitudes toward persons with serious mental illness following personal contact. These findings indicate that personal contact with a mentally ill person could be used as an intervention to improve attitudes and reduce stigma in healthcare professionals.

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