What is a comprehensive mental health nursing assessment? A review of the literature
ABSTRACT: Assessment is the foundation on which nursing care is delivered. The aim of this paperis to better understand the content (what information nurses seek about consumers) and the process(how they go about gathering that information) of a comprehensive mental health nursing assessmentin practice. Using terms, such as `nursingÃÂ¿, `mental healthÃÂ¿, and `assessmentÃÂ¿, the CINAHL, Medline,and PsycINFO databases were searched for studies that describe the content and process of acomprehensive mental health nursing assessment. Although studies of aspects of mental health nursingassessment, such as the assessment of risk or carer burden, were found, no single study described boththe content and process of a comprehensive mental health nursing assessment in practice. In Australia,a comprehensive assessment is codified as a competency to practice nursing; however, the standards ofpractice set for mental health nurses are less clear on what constitutes a comprehensive assessment orhow this should be undertaken. The peer-reviewed literature describes assessment as both an independentand interdependent activity. It is described as informal, and there is evidence that comprehensivemental health nursing assessments are not well documented. The credibility of training andresearch into mental health nursing requires that the content and the process of a comprehensivemental health nursing assessment needs to be clearly defined.