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about_entranceFairfield University’s School of Nursing has received a grant from the Daphne Seybolt Culpeper Foundation to support a study of the impact of incarceration on individuals with schizophrenia. The hope is that the information gained from the study will help Fairfield’s nursing students better understand this often misunderstood patient population and how to care for them. The project also will expand and enhance the undergraduate mental health nursing curriculum at Fairfield.

More than two million American adults have schizophrenia, a disorder identified by the World Health Organization as one of the ten most debilitating diseases. Data indicates that prevalence rates of schizophrenia and mood disorders were three to six times greater among the inmate population than the general community; more recent estimates of the numbers of inmates with severe mental illness vary from 13 to 19%. The majority of these individuals – about 70% – have been jailed for non-violent offenses.

Joyce Shea, DNSc, APRN, assistant professor and undergraduate program director at the School of Nursing, received full funding for this curriculum development project that will include field research in the amount of $14,712 from the Culpeper Foundation. Two undergraduate students will work as research assistants on the study, and will help process information from Dr. Shea’s interviews with incarcerated schizophrenics. She said an understanding of the incarceration experience from the perspective of individuals themselves will better inform the development of cutting-edge curriculum and methods in the undergraduate mental health nursing course, and, ultimately, it also will improve the provision of quality health care to this marginalized group of people.

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