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Psychiatric nurses' views on criteria for psychiatric intensive care: acute and intensive care staff compared

Bowers, L., Crowhurst, N., Alexander, J. , Eales, S., Guy, S. & McCann, E. ORCID: 0000-0003-3548-4204 (2003). Psychiatric nurses' views on criteria for psychiatric intensive care: acute and intensive care staff compared. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 40(2), pp. 142-152. doi: 10.1016/S0020-7489(02)00043-3


Aim: To explore and investigate differences between the views of qualified nurses working in psychiatric intensive care units (PICUs) and acute care wards on which patients are appropriate for PICU care.

Background: Previous research on the area of psychiatric intensive care highlights the great differences that exist in all aspects of service provision, from unit size and staffing levels to treatment approaches and physical environment. One of the most common areas of controversy is the type of client behaviour that warrants admission to the PICU.

Method: Structured interviews of 100 qualified nursing staff (in the London area, England) working on either acute or PICU wards were used to gather data on appropriate and inappropriate referral to PICUs. Comments made during the course of the interviews were also collected and subjected to content analysis.

Findings: There was evidence to support the hypothesis that acute ward staff considered patients suitable for PICU care at a lower level of risk than PICU staff thought appropriate. In comparison to acute ward nurses, those working in PICUs attended to a broader range of factors when considering suitability for admission to PICU. Appropriate reasons for transfer fell into five groups: risk to others; risk of intentional harm to self; risk of unintentional harm to self; therapeutic benefit from the PICU environment; and legitimate acute ward care problem. Inappropriate reasons for transfer fell into four groups: low risk to others and/or self; illegitimate acute admission care problems; patient belongs elsewhere; policy issues.

Conclusion: The study opens up a range of issues not previously studied in relation to the use of PICUs and the intricate relationship of this use with the available acute care wards and other services. These findings and their implications for the care of acute and disturbed psychiatric patients are discussed.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2003. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Psychiatry, Intensive care, Violence, Absconding, Self-harm, Mental health policy, Admission criteria
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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