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Student nurse perceptions of experiential learning to understand personality disorder.

Warrender, Dan; Macpherson, Scott



The high prevalence of people with personality disorders in mental health settings suggests that there should be a dedicated focus on this area within pre-registration mental health nursing. People with personality disorder diagnoses have been described as a challenging group to work with, and this has led to negative perceptions and stigmatisation of the clinical label. A hypothesis that these negative perceptions are rooted in a lack of empathy, directly related to a lack of understanding of the lived experience of these conditions, led to the development of a teaching session utilising experiential learning. Aims were to proactively address stigmatisation through ‘fishing upstream’ and promoting an appreciation of the lived experience of the symptoms of a personality disorder diagnosis. Based in a university teaching pre-registration mental health nursing, the session used simulation to allow students to adopt the role of a person diagnosed with a with a personality disorder and interact in a facilitated scenario. A qualitative and phenomenological design saw the perceptions of four student nurses captured through focus group and interview. Students described the teaching session as beneficial in having improved their empathy and increased their understanding of the experience of people living with personality disorder diagnoses, allowing them the understanding to be able to challenge stigma, giving them a desire to role model good practice to others and increasing their confidence in working with people with personality disorder diagnoses. This has clear implications for practice through increasing understanding and reducing the potential for negative perceptions, thus potentially improving the experience of mental healthcare for people with personality disorders.


WARRENDER, D. and MACPHERSON, S. 2018. Student nurse perceptions of experiential learning to understand personality disorder. British journal of mental health nursing [online], 7(4), pages 173-188. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 31, 2018
Online Publication Date Jul 31, 2018
Publication Date Oct 31, 2018
Deposit Date Oct 4, 2018
Publicly Available Date Feb 1, 2019
Journal British journal of mental health nursing
Print ISSN 2049-5919
Electronic ISSN 2052-496X
Publisher Mark Allen Healthcare
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Issue 4
Pages 173-188
Keywords Personality disorders; Borderline personality disorder; Mental health nursing; Student nurses; Experiential learning; Simulation
Public URL


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