Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


Yale University School of Nursing

First Advisor



Aim. To identify essential content for a learning program on caring for persons with schizophrenia and medical comorbidities for non-psychiatric nurses.

Background. Approximately 30-40% of medically hospitalized patients carry psychiatric diagnoses. They have complex medical needs and higher rates of morbidity and mortality, yet more restricted access to health care services. Non-psychiatric nurses may perceive those suffering from schizophrenia as difficult and often respond differently to acute medical problems when aware of a patient's psychiatric diagnosis. Hospital nurses working in general or other non-psychiatric units may lack the competency to manage the disruptive behaviors associated with mental illness.

Data Sources. A search of CINAHL, PUBMED, EBSCO, Orbis, and Google Scholar was conducted for literature published between 2000 and 2015. Literature published by relevant professional organizations was also included. Content validation was performed using a focus group.

Implications for Nursing. As nursing practice becomes increasingly complex, creating evidence-based education programs to raise the competency of non-psychiatric nurses will help them adapt to the changing demands of their patients.

Results. The literature review yielded five main categories including: Clinical Presentation and Assessment; Pathophysiological Mechanism; Treatment; Core Competencies and

Vignettes. All of these were retained based on nurses' identification of their own learning needs.

Conclusion. As the largest workforce in America, nurses play a crucial role in the health care system. Educating them to better provide for individuals with mental illness will clearly benefit hospitals, communities, care providers, and most importantly, a hitherto underserved patient population.

Keywords: schizophrenia, education, comorbidity, nursing, clinical competency, outcomes, knowledge.

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