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Position Paper Process & Guidelines


Position papers state positions officially endorsed by the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) as authorized by the APNA Board of Directors and are intended to advance the profession of psychiatric-mental health nursing. Position papers discuss issues in the field of psychiatric-mental health nursing of vital interest to the profession. A position paper examines an issue and, based on the best available evidence, outlines a position on and provides recommendations for addressing the issue. APNA position papers use inclusive language* and advocate for solutions or paths forward that promote psychiatric-mental health nurses, improve mental health care for culturally diverse individuals, families, groups, and communities, and/or shape health policy for the delivery of mental health services.

*As outlined in the Guidelines on Inclusive Language and Images in Scholarly Communication.


  • A position paper is initiated by the President or by direction of the APNA Board of Directors. The Board of Directors appoints a chair to lead the group’s work and designates a timeline. Members with subject matter expertise are identified and appointed through a number of possible methods: a call to the membership / application process, recommendations from council or committee chairs, appointment by the Board or President, etc.
  • A first draft of the paper is submitted to the APNA Board of Directors for review and comment. The Board of Directors may request further revisions or clarifications before taking a vote to accept or reject the paper in concept.
  • The paper is edited if needed and then a final version is submitted to the Board for review and approval. The Board votes (simple majority) to accept, accept with additional revisions, or reject the paper. Before the position paper is published, it is circulated to the membership for comment. The comments are provided to the group and the Board for possible editing and/or re-approval.
  • Accepted position papers will be published as approved (with the exception of stylistic changes) on the APNA website as a position endorsed by the American Psychiatric Nurses Association for three years. At the Board’s discretion, the paper may be submitted to the Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (JAPNA) for publication in a section designated for APNA purposes. Content in this section does not go through the peer review process and is exclusively for APNA’s use at the discretion of the APNA Board of Directors.
  • A paper rejected by the Board of Directors may be submitted to any scholarly journal as the product of the authors, but it may not be identified as an opinion or product of APNA. APNA, the APNA logo, and all other names, logos, and icons identifying APNA and its products and services are proprietary trademarks of APNA, and any use of such marks without the express written permission of APNA is strictly prohibited.
  • APNA’s endorsement of a position paper ends three years from publication of the position paper. APNA may renew its endorsement of a position paper by following steps below, with revision of the original manuscript as appropriate for changes in knowledge or understanding that occur during the three-year life of the original position paper.


A position paper shall be concise (fewer than 2000 words recommended) and formatted as below:

Abstract: The abstract is a concise (fewer than 250 words) review of the paper. The abstract summarizes the introduction, background, body, and major points of the paper.
Introduction: The introduction concisely states the purpose of the paper and provides historical context to the issue being examined.
Discussion: The discussion is a review of the current state of knowledge on a particular subject. This section should contain only information currently accepted as factual under existing scientific methodology and knowledge. This section is intended to present a balanced review of the subject of the paper by highlighting the current state of knowledge, areas of contention, and preferred methods of practice. The paper will acknowledge and discuss current considerations supported by the evidence base. Personal opinions, speculative theory, or information relative to a specific case cannot be included in this discussion.
Position: This section outlines the position that the paper is advocating based on the evidence provided in the discussion section, as well as any related suggested actions.
Conclusion: The conclusion states succinctly the major points supported by the paper.
References: The paper includes a concise list of references that support the main points as well as the range of considerations discussed in the paper. Papers will be prepared using American Psychological Association (APA) format.
(Adapted from National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) approved 2/21/06;

Resources for writing position papers:

Review and Sunsetting

Position papers are reviewed by the APNA Board of Directors three years after their original approval date. Upon review, the Board will move to take one of the following actions:

  • Form and/or charge a council, workgroup, or task force with updating the resource.
  • Determine that the resource is still relevant and does not need updating at this time. The date of board review will be added to the paper and it will be reviewed on an annual basis until it has been sunset or updated.
  • Archive the resource and remove it from the APNA website but maintain it on file at APNA for historical purposes.


Approved by the Board of Directors – July 13, 2010
Reviewed – July 2012
Revised – January 2020,
March 2023, February 2024