Experiences of community nurses in management of a district-based mental health information system in the Western Cape, South Africa
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The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of community nurses in the management of a mental health information system (MHIS). A purposive convenient sampling method was employed to select 23 community mental health nurses from 23 community health facilities for the study. Individual semi-structured interviews were used, and the data were analysed for themes. The main findings of the study were categorised into the themes of information gathering tools and contents, information processing, and challenges of mental health information processing. Subthemes which emerged were information gathering tools, head count information content, knowledge and skills, computer technology, information flow and sharing, resources, and feedback in information processing. Information processing in terms of data gathering, compiling, analysing, getting feedback, and sharing information were the major concerns. There were inadequate knowledge and skills in information systems, no standard information collection tools designed for mental health, and lack of infrastructure, such as a mental health information network system across the health facilities and up to the higher level. Mental health requires a responsible person that deals with the MHIS in terms of reporting, analysing and getting feedback from the results of analysis back to the people at ground level for implementation. The amount of mental health information being collected and processed was inadequate and of poor quality. This has resulted in having few data available for the decision making process and/or planning mental health services.