Confidence and attitudes of pharmacy students towards suicidal crises: patient simulation using people with a lived experience
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Health care professionals, including pharmacists, have the potential to recognise and assist those at risk of suicide. The primary aim of this study was to assess the impact of utilising people with a lived experience of mental illness as simulated patients on final year pharmacy students’ attitudes toward and confidence in caring for people at risk of suicide after first receiving Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training.
A parallel group repeated measures design was used. People with a lived experience of mental illness enacted patients experiencing a mental health crisis, including possible suicidal ideation. Following MHFA training, the first group directly participated in the simulation, the second group observed, and the final group had no exposure to the simulation. Validated surveys measuring student attitudes and confidence were conducted at three time points; pre and post MHFA, and then at 2–4 weeks follow-up.
Full datasets of survey responses were received from 34/40 direct participants (85%), 104/146 observers (71%) and 50/66 comparison students (76%). Mean confidence scores significantly improved for all groups post MHFA training (p < 0.05). At follow-up, all 8 confidence items for the direct participant and observer group maintained significance from baseline to post intervention (p < 0.05). Mixed results in relation to attitudes towards suicide were evident at each time point and among each participant group.
Utilising people with a lived experience of mental illness as simulated patients has a positive effect on sustaining pharmacy student confidence in discussing suicidal behaviour post MHFA training. The inconsistency in attitudes towards suicide suggests that attitudes are complex in nature, involving multiple dynamic influences.
KeywordsSuicide Healthcare personnel Attitudes Confidence Simulated patients
The authors thank the study participants and are grateful to One Door Mental Health for their assistance in developing and implementing the mental health consumer-led patient scenarios.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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