Background: Relapse in individuals with severe mental illness (SMI) is a frequent occurrence and can add considerably to the burden of disease. As such, relapse prevention is an essential therapeutic outcome for people with SMI. Mental health nurses (MHNs) are well placed to support individuals with SMI and to prevent relapse; notwithstanding, there has been no synthesis of the evidence to date to determine whether MHNs prevent relapse in this population.
Methods: Electronic databases will be systemically searched for observational studies and clinical trials that report the association between mental health nursing and the hospitalisation of persons living with an SMI. The search will be supplemented by reference checking and a search of the grey literature. The primary outcome of interest will be hospital admission rate. Screening of articles, data extraction and critical appraisal will be undertaken by two reviewers, independently, with a third reviewer consulted should disagreement occur between reviewers. The quality of studies will be assessed using the Risk Of Bias In Non-randomised Studies - of Interventions (ROBINS-I) tool and the Cochrane Collaboration risk of bias tool. Depending on the number of studies and level of heterogeneity, the evidence may be synthesised using meta-analysis or narrative synthesis.
Discussion: This review will explore for the first time the clinical potential of mental health nursing in preventing relapse in persons with SMI. The findings of this review will serve to inform future research and education in this area. The evidence may also help inform future policy, including decisions regarding future mental health workforce development and planning. Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42017058694.