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An exploration of clinical decision-making in mental health triage
journal contributionposted on 2009-08-01, 00:00 authored by Natisha SandsNatisha Sands
Mental health (MH) triage is a specialist area of clinical nursing practice that involves complex decision making. The discussion in this article draws on the findings of a Ph.D. study that involved a statewide investigation of the scope of MH triage nursing practice in Victoria, Australia. Although the original Ph.D. study investigated a number of core practices in MH triage, the focus of the discussion in this article is specifically on the findings related to clinical decision making in MH triage, which have not previously been published. The study employed an exploratory descriptive research design that used mixed data collection methods including a survey questionnaire (n = 139) and semistructured interviews (n = 21). The study findings related to decision making revealed a lack of empirically tested evidence-based decision-making frameworks currently in use to support MH triage nursing practice. MH triage clinicians in Australia rely heavily on clinical experience to underpin decision making and have little of knowledge of theoretical models for practice, such as methodologies for rating urgency. A key recommendation arising from the study is the need to develop evidence-based decision-making frameworks such as clinical guidelines to inform and support MH triage clinical decision making.