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Clinical predictors and patterns of absconding in a low secure challenging behaviour mental health unit

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 December 2009

M Dominic Beer*
Affiliation:
Consultant Psychiatrist in Challenging Behaviour and Intensive Care Psychiatry, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust and Honorary Senior Lecturer, Division of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK
Anandamurugan Muthukumaraswamy
Affiliation:
Specialist Registrar, St Thomas’ Hospital, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
Al Aditya Khan
Affiliation:
Locum Speciality Registrar, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, Kent, UK
Mohammad Arif Musabbir
Affiliation:
Speciality Trainee, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, Kent, UK
*
Correspondence to: Dr M.D. Beer, Consultant in Challenging Behaviour and Intensive Care Psychiatry, Bracton Centre, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, Bracton Lane, Dartford, Kent DA2 7AF, UK, E-mail: Dominic.Beer@oxleas.nhs.uk
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Abstract

Aims: To compare the clinical characteristics of patients who absconded and those who did not abscond; and to show the types of absconding behaviour in a low secure challenging behaviour mental health unit.

Method: A retrospective case control study was conducted. Details of the absconding incidents were collected from an electronic incident database. Clinical predictors of patients who absconded (cases) and those who did not (controls) were compared. Statistical analysis was performed to determine statistical significance of the observed differences.

Results: 80 admissions resulted from 78 patients during a period of 6½ years. 22% of the inpatients absconded from the unit. 84% of the incidents occurred while patients were utilising their unescorted leave. Only one patient escaped from the building. No serious incidents resulted from any of the abscondings. On univariate analysis, the following predictors were more likely to be statistically associated with patients who absconded from the unit: a history of absconding behaviour and a history of substance misuse or dependence. A history of non-compliance with treatment, a history of sexually inappropriate behaviour and a history of childhood conduct problems showed a trend towards statistical significance.

Conclusion: The clinical characteristics of patients who abscond from low secure units show similarities with those who abscond from other psychiatric inpatient settings.

Declaration of interests: None.

Type
Original Paper
Copyright
Copyright © NAPICU 2009

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