Student mental health nurse communication: responding to emotion, patient and student nurse satisfaction.


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Background: Effective communication is core to patient care, this includes recognising and responding to patients’ emotions. Evidence suggests that when health care professionals provide facilitative (provide space) responses to patient emotions, these are associated with more positive health outcomes and satisfaction. However, less is known about emotional communication in the context of mental health and with nurses and nursing students. The aim of this thesis was therefore twofold.

To explore how student mental health nurses (SMHN) respond to patient and simulated patient emotions.
To explore the relationship between these responses and patient and SMHN satisfaction.

Methods: A quantitative design was adopted with a sample of second and third year undergraduate SMHNs. Three separate but linked studies assessed SMHN responses to patients’ emotional expressions in classroom and clinical settings using the Verona Consensus Coding Definition of Emotional Sequences (VR-CoDES). Patient and student satisfaction with the consultation was also measured using an adapted Interview Satisfaction Questionnaire (ISQ).

Results: Results indicated that a high number of SMHNs gave facilitative (provide space) responses for the patient to discuss their concerns further. There were significant differences in responses between academic year groups in classroom settings, with third year students giving more provide space responses that facilitated discussions with patients than second year students. In addition, positive satisfaction ratings by both patients and SMHNs provided clinical validity to the SMHN identification of, and responses to, patients cues and concerns.

Conclusions and implications for practice: This study is unique as it is the first to explore emotional communication between SMHN and inpatient mental health population samples using VR-CoDES analysis. Findings from this study can directly inform undergraduate mental health nurse training, learning and assessment and have implications for practice such as providing patient centred care and responding to patient emotions in such settings.
Date of Award17 Jul 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorPETER LEADBETTER (Director of Studies), JEREMY BROWN (Supervisor) & SALLY SPENCER (Supervisor)


  • Inpatient settings.
  • Communication
  • Cue.
  • Satisfaction.
  • Patient-provider interaction.
  • Concern.
  • Emotional responsiveness.
  • VR-CoDES.
  • Student Mental Health Nurses.
  • Mental Health.

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