Background The life expectancy for people with mental health issues is significantly lower than the general population, however, their physical health needs are often unrecognised by health professionals.
Aim To investigate whether third-year mental health nursing students are clinically prepared to undertake a pre-defined set of physical health checks.
Method A 34-item questionnaire was completed by two cohorts of mental health nursing students in their third and final year. Participants self-reported on their competence to assess a range of physical health checks. 37 questionnaires were completed and analysed.
Findings Three groups emerged: group 1 – 100% of students self-declared competence in assessments including temperature and pulse, group 2 – more than 50% of students self-declared competence in assessments including urinalysis and pulse oximetry, and group 3 – less than 50% of students self-declared competence in taking electrocardiograms and using the hydration assessment tool.
Conclusion The student participants of this study were not adequately prepared to undertake a complete range of physical health assessments for people with mental health issues.