Honors Program

University Honors, Honors in Nursing

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Judith Rice

Thesis Professor Department


Thesis Reader(s)

Beth Schreiner, Brittany Wilkins




The purpose of this study is to survey primary care providers regarding their perceived stress related to treating patients with a mental illness. The specific aim is to determine whether or not primary care providers experience stress while treating patients with a mental illness.


Accessibility to mental health care is a growing problem in our country. It is increasingly becoming common for patients with a mental illness to present for treatment in a primary care setting. Many factors lead patients with a mental illness to seek treatment in a primary care setting, such as presenting symptoms or chronic conditions, stigmas involved with mental illness, and untimely access to a mental health facility. Despite the growing numbers of patients with a mental illness in primary care settings, primary care providers are often uncomfortable addressing mental health issues (Butler & Kane, 2008). Since these providers do not specialize in mental health, they have, at best, received a minimal amount of education in this specific area. Williams et al. note that staff in primary care settings have received very little previous training in mental health, and an urgent need exists to ensure that these staff can address the mental health problems within their communities (Williams, Ryzhkova, Proselkova, Zakroyeva, Gask & Goldberg, 2012). This need for more education suggests that the primary care providers may not be appropriately equipped to properly diagnose treat, and manage patients with a mental illness. Without proper knowledge and experience, the providers may not have the necessary confidence in their abilities to know that they are correctly caring for and treating their patients with a mental illness. The lack of confidence and comfort in accurately treating and diagnosing patients with a mental illness may affect the stress levels of primary care providers.


This study will be descriptive and cross sectional. A purposive sampling of primary care providers from Central Appalachia will be used to obtain the data for this study. The recruitment for this study will take place at a nurse practitioner association meeting as well as a nurse-managed community health center. A demographic survey (consisting of age, gender, education level, and experience in primary care) and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) will be collected from each participating primary care practitioner. The 10-item PSS asks questions about perceived stress related to treating patients with a mental illness. The PSS uses a Likert scale with response options that range from never, almost never, sometimes, fairly often, and very often. Each item will be scored based upon the response to each item. The data collected from the demographic survey and the 10-item questionnaire will be analyzed using descriptive statistics.

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

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Creative Commons License
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