What is the influence of nurse education on the Indigenous belief systems about intellectual disability and mental illness of student nurses of Southern African origin?

  • Chris Dlamini

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the impact of nurse education on the indigenous belief systems of student nurses of Southern African origin. The study documents their perspectives and experiences regarding beliefs about causation, management and treatment of intellectual disability and mental illness since they were children in Africa and then enquire about the influence of nurse education on those beliefs when they were in England.
Semi-structured qualitative interviews lasting up to ninety minutes were held with each participant over Microsoft Teams, and thematic analysis was used to generate research themes and findings. Six themes and a variety of subthemes emerged including beliefs about intellectual disability and mental illness, cultural learning experiences in Africa, witchcraft, help-seeking ways, stigma and acculturation. Implications for both educational institutions and further research were discussed that may help nursing educators better understand the Southern African student nurse experience and assist the students to successfully complete their nursing education. Results indicated that nurse education alone did not play a role in shifting belief systems; highlighting that acculturation and employment in health and social care had a major stake in preparing students for the nursing journey. The analysis revealed that participants were as strongly motivated to integrate into British society as they were determined to maintain the attachment to their cultural values although they were equally willing to change their beliefs towards causation of intellectual disability and mental illness.
More significantly, the study showed that nurse education needed to acknowledge the diversity of the university classroom and decolonise the curriculum to deliver teaching that speaks to all students. Importantly, the study adds further knowledge on a less researched area involving indigenous African belief systems in a British university delivering nurse education and calls for educators to support the student nurse who enters the classroom with a different set of beliefs.
Date of Award16 Feb 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SupervisorAlan Armstrong (Supervisor) & Dorothy Hannis (Supervisor)

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