City Research Online

Psychiatric wards: places of safety?

Jones, J., Nolan, P., Bowers, L. , Simpson, A., Whittington, R., Hackney, D. & Bhui, K. (2010). Psychiatric wards: places of safety?. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 17(2), pp. 124-130. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2850.2009.01482.x


Aim. This paper is a report of a study to explore the experiences of service users on acute inpatient psychiatric wards in England regarding their feelings of safety and security whilst in hospital.

Background. In recent years the purpose and quality of provision delivered in acute inpatient psychiatric settings have been increasingly questioned. Studies from a service user perspective have reported that whilst some psychiatric inpatients feel safe and cared for, others see their time there as neither safe nor therapeutic.

Method. Sixty semi-structured interviews were conducted with psychiatric inpatients randomly selected from sixty psychiatric wards in England. The interviews were conducted over an 18 month period in 2004–2005. The interviews were analysed thematically.

Findings. A third of the respondents felt safe in hospital and felt supported by staff and other patients in times of need. However, anything that threatened their sense of security, such as fighting between patients, intimidation, bullying, theft, racism, and illegal substances such as alcohol or cannabis being smuggled onto the ward, made many of them feel insecure and unsafe. Psychiatric wards are still perceived by many as volatile environments, where service users feel forced to devise personal security strategies in order to protect themselves and their property.

Conclusion. It would appear that there remains much to do before research findings and policies are implemented in ways that facilitate all service users to derive the maximum benefit from their in-patient experience.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Nursing, Psychiatry, NURSING, SCI, NURSING, SSCI, PSYCHIATRY, SCI, PSYCHIATRY, SSCI, aggression, interviews, psychiatric inpatient ward, safety and security, service user perspective, MENTAL-HEALTH, AFTER-DISCHARGE, SUICIDE, CARE
Subjects: R Medicine > RT Nursing
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
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