5 evidence-based treatment practices in mental health nursing

by Dr. Alan September 10, 2020

Seven evidence-based treatment practices in mental health nursing

Scientific studies and research surveys show consistent proof to validate depression or other psychological disorders. There is ample evidence to prove how mental health issues can be fatal for the individual if left untreated for long. And it is only with a proper diagnosis that we can identify the symptoms and take care of them. 

Evidence-based practices or EBP refer to a holistic, patient-oriented approach. EBP is part of a more prominent framework called EBM or evidence-based medicine. Here are some of the popular evidence-based treatments, popular in the nursing sector.

What is evidence-based nursing?

The National Alliance on Mental Health defines evidence-based practice or EBP as scientifically proven methods to diagnose behavioural and psychological disorders. These practices follow a more niche approach to patient care, ensuring a higher success rate.

EBP techniques combine the best of individual patient-values and clinical experience. It is an innovative approach to healthcare that produces effective results.

Effective EBP practices

Evidence-based practices usually deal with mental health issues, psychological disorders, and substance abuse cases. Here are a few EBP interventions that nursing practitioners apply on the various situations they get

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy for substance abuse/addictions
  • Exposure therapy for anxiety and PTSD disorders
  • Family therapy sessions for dysfunctional family units
  • Dialectic behaviour therapy for multiple chronic disorders
  • Assertive community treatments for specialized mental healthcare
  • Motivational interviews and sessions

Cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT is one of the most noteworthy practices in evidence-based treatments. The traditional therapy techniques focus more on the doctor-patient rapport, built over multiple personal sessions. EBP, in comparison, is more scientific and hence has a standardized approach.

Patients struggling with anxiety and other psychological disorders often find themselves subjected to prejudice and stigma. This might discourage them from seeking medical help. EBP treatment is a progressive step towards spreading awareness of mental health.

Here are some of the standard EBP methods used in mental health nursing.

Regular therapy gives the doctor daily updates on the patient’s mental health.

Program for Assertive Community Treatment (PACT)

PACT helps patients get back to their healthy life under a watchful and safe environment. Nursing practitioners’ resort to behavioural patterns, observations, and brain scans to substantiate the diagnosis.

PACT focuses on outpatient treatments and ongoing therapy techniques. This carries on even after the patient has been discharged. Regular therapy gives the doctor daily updates on the patient’s mental health. It is easier to predict any relapse or identify trigger points in such cases, reducing the risk of any physical/psychological damage.

Integrated treatment for recurring disorders

A team of doctors and nursing professional usually provide multi-channel support to patients with behavioural and substance abuse issues. A combination of these two factors increases the recovery chances almost tenfold.

Some medical institutes and rehabilitation centres also provide housing facilities to patients. This ensures that the patient is under observation and can get immediate help if they relapse. These integrated programs often get government support and funding as well for proper functioning.

Illness management and recovery programs (IMR)

IMR or illness management recovery programs are interactive sessions wherein the patient actively participates in the recovery process. IMR includes regular weekly meetings with registered behavioural psychiatrists to discuss various exercises, activities, and treatments. This gives the patient better chances of getting back to healthy living and starts again

Mental health affects our day to day activities and interactions with people. Drug addicts, victims of trauma or patients with severe PTSD might find it difficult to function normally. With these interventions, nurses try to integrate them into society and boost their confidence slowly.

Medication treatment and evaluation (MedTEAM)

MedTEAM is a framework that provides in-depth research-based diagnosis reports to patients on their mental health. The primary purpose of this platform is to improve the patient’s quality of life and enhance their behavioural skills.

The physician or nurse in charge must have a detailed medical history of the patient. All future prescriptions are based on this report, and hence custom-made to suit the patient’s needs. The medical evaluation team keeps the patient and their family in the loop as well.

The Cochrane collaboration

The Cochrane collaboration is a body that helps patients make informed decisions about their treatment. Here, the doctor or nursing professional would give you a detailed, evidence-based diagnosis and the possible options available.

The Cochrane collaboration works in over 100 countries and has approx. 15,000 participants to date. This platform also gives patients access to healthcare professionals. You can directly contact the surgeons and understand the success percentage of any operation. With EBD diagnosis, doctors can be more transparent with the patient’s family.

Childcare trends organization

The stigma over post-partum depression have considerably reduced, and EBP plays a significant role in this change. Labour and giving birth to a baby is an exhaustive process, and some young mothers suffer from physical/mental trauma post-delivery.

Due to the residual trauma and hormonal imbalances in the body, the mother might not be able to bond with the new-born. Motherhood is not always a joyful experience. The Childs Trend Organisation is a body that actively advocates for post-partum depression patients.

A recent legislative move in 2016, finally recognized PTSD and psychosis on mothers as a valid medical concern. As per evidence-based diagnosis, it is now standard practice to screen mothers post-delivery for the condition.

Evidence-based practices in nursing offer more than therapy and medication to the patient.

Permanent supportive housing for patients

Mental health issues crop up both internal and external reasons. The emotional responses to everyday struggles, socio-political breakdowns and personal responses can trigger depression, PTSD, and other disorders in people.

People turn to drugs and other substances to escape a deep-seated trauma. Such addictions can have life-threatening repercussions on the patient, driving them to self-harm and even suicide. This is where EBP comes into play.

Evidence-based practices in nursing offer more than therapy and medication to the patient. The professionals also help the patient rehabilitate and rebuild their lives from scratch and get back to normalcy. The patient receives assistance in finding independent housing facilities and earning opportunities.

5 A’s of EBP nursing cycle

Evidence-based practices are the general norm in mental health diagnosis. Nursing candidates would be familiar with the 5-A’s of the EBP cycle– ask, acquire, appraise, apply, and assess. The details of each step are discussed below.

Step 1: Ask the patient

The first step for any diagnosis is asking the patient. Here, the nurse enquires about the health- both mental and physical of the patient. The initial diagnosis consists of recording body stats like temperature, pressure, and sugar levels. A basic blood test gives insights on substance abuse or drug addictions.

This process continues over multiple sessions, wherein the patient opens up about their struggles and experiences.

Step 2: Acquire evidence

After the fundamental questioning, the nurse begins an in-depth check-up of the patient. Here, the nurse collects all the data on the patient. This includes running several tests to check the hormonal levels, presence of drugs etc. Doctors also take CT scans and ultrasound reports for more information.

These stats and reports are clinical evidence. Analyzing these reports, one can develop a hypothesis on the source of the problem.

Step 3: Appraise the evidence

Here, the nurse or practitioner compares the evidence with existing medical research. The nursing curriculum has a section where the students learn to crack case studies and come up with alternative solutions.

When you appraise the evidence, you analyze it and try to derive valuable insights from the data collected. Note that the practitioner in charge must also check the credibility of the source before appraising it.

Step 4: Apply evidence

This is perhaps the most crucial aspect of EBP, wherein the nurse applies the appropriate solution to treat the patient. Based on the research and proof hence collected, the doctors can arrive at the right treatment/medication.

And because there is a clinical experience to back up your diagnosis, the chances of errors reduce considerably. As per the EBP method, the doctors/nurses discuss the possible treatments with the patient. Patients are free to choose from the options given.

Step 5: Assess evidence

Once the evidence is applied, the nurse records the results and assess them. This gives you the final results- was the treatment effective or not. In case the medication doesn’t work, the nurse reviews the evidence for any discrepancies.

EBP treatments simplify the process of identifying the source of the problem. Patient feedback and post-treatment care are also part of this process.

Quick links and references

Here are a few research papers and sources taken from academic and govt. Websites. You can even cite them in your next document!

Evidence-Based Practice (NUR 4169): What is EBP?

Evidence-based practices in mental health

Evidence for psychological and psychiatric health nursing 

Evidence-based practice as a mental health policy

Implementing evidence-based practices in routine mental healthcare

The bottom line

There was a time when people with mental health issues were considered lazy, unproductive, or weak. Thankfully, over the years, medical science has actively worked towards debunking this stigma. Mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder etc. are legit.

And anyone suffering from these ailments should reach out to a professional ASAP and get the help required to be better. Mental health is as important (if not more) than physical health. I hope this blog answers all your questions about EBP treatments. Take care.

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