Patient Engagement Resources

In the context of psychiatric-mental health nursing, engagement can be understood on two, interconnected levels:

  1. Clinical Relationship: Being clinically involved with a patient while the patient moves towards clinical treatment goals
  2. Work Environment: Participating in one’s work to achieve a sense of fulfillment within the work environment.

Engagement involves deliberate, meaningful interaction as a means for nurses to establish trusting, helpful relationships with patients. Forging these interpersonal relationships is an essential part of psychiatric-mental health nurses’ commitment to their work environments. It requires awareness that individuals dealing with mental distress may observe their illness and its impact in various ways and that patients’ psychological safety may be vulnerable during treatment.

Psychiatric nurses have the opportunity to shape treatment cultures with recovery-oriented, patient-centered qualities. Engagement with patients should be a core skill, developed in novice nurses, and as the nurse’s experience grows, it should broaden to integrate sophisticated concepts around helping patients access narratives of their life experiences and building a cohesive sense of self.*

These resources should serve as a starting point. Inside the toolkit, you'll find literature hand-picked by nurses on:

  • Unit Cultures that Engender Engagement
  • The Concept of Engagement
  • Research on Nurse Interactions/ Relationships on Inpatient Units
  • Strategies to Increase Engagement
  • Patients' Perceptions of Engagement/ Interaction/ Experiences on Inpatient Units
  • Research Associating Aggressive Incidents with Engagement/ Ward Culture
  • Methods to Measure Engagement



*Adapted from Polacek M., Allen D., Damin-Moss R., Schwartz A., Sharp D., Shattell M., Souther, J., Delaney K. (2015). Engagement as an element of safe inpatient psychiatric environments. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 21, 181-190.

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