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Mental health nurses’ experience of eating: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

Botha, A. (2020). Mental health nurses’ experience of eating: an interpretative phenomenological analysis. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


In this qualitative study, we aimed to investigate inpatient mental health nurses’ experience of eating. Previous literature indicated that mental health nurses experienced high occupational stress. In light of national shortages of nurses, nurses reported that high workload led to the inability to stay hydrated, eat or use the toilet. Research suggested that nurses most commonly used eating as a stress-reduction method, tentatively concluding that stress-induced eating could exacerbate the obesity epidemic. Seven male inpatient mental health nurses participated in semi-structured interviews via telephone. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Three master themes emerged: “Part and parcel of the nature of the job”, which included “The pressure of work”, “Everything else fell by the wayside” and “Eating is not your priority”; “Try to sort of compensate”, which included “Hunger can be frustrating”, “Eating more than I should have” and “Hang on, what am I doing?”; and “So I am getting healthier. Just not healthy”, which included, “You want to be healthy don’t you?”, “I have a window of opportunity to eat” and “I just have to find the balance”. Employers need to encourage cultural change by providing a supportive environment to facilitate healthy eating amongst mental health nurses, including managerial supervision, incident debriefing and appropriate psychological interventions, which can include psychoeducational leaflets, workshops, group support and 1:1 CBT sessions.

Keywords: Nurses, male, eating, self-care, stress, work culture

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
[img] Text - Accepted Version
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