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Poorer patient views of mental health inpatient treatment predict both further admissions and, for those admitted involuntarily, longer admissions. As advocated in the UK Francis report, we investigated the hypothesis that improving staff training improves patients’ views of ward care.
Cluster randomised trial with stepped wedge design in 16 acute mental health wards randomised (using the ralloc procedure in Stata) by an independent statistician in three waves to staff training. A psychologist trained ward staff on evidence-based group interventions and then supported their introduction to each ward. The main outcome was blind self-report of perceptions of care (VOICE) before or up to 2 years after staff training between November 2008 and January 2013.
In total, 1108 inpatients took part (616 admitted involuntarily under the English Mental Health Act). On average 51.6 staff training sessions were provided per ward. Involuntary patient's perceptions of, and satisfaction with, mental health wards improved after staff training (N582, standardised effect −0·35, 95% CI −0·57 to −0·12, p = 0·002; interaction p value 0·006) but no benefit to those admitted voluntarily (N469, −0.01, 95% CI −0.23 to 0.22, p = 0.955) and no strong evidence of an overall effect (N1058, standardised effect −0.18 s.d., 95% CI −0.38 to 0.01, p = 0.062). The training costs around £10 per patient per week. Resource allocation changed towards patient perceived meaningful contacts by an average of £12 (95% CI −£76 to £98, p = 0.774).
Staff training improved the perceptions of the therapeutic environment in those least likely to want an inpatient admission, those formally detained. This change might enhance future engagement with all mental health services and prevent the more costly admissions.
The Francis report highlights perceptions of care that are affected by
different factors including ward structures.
To assess patient and staff perceptions of psychiatric in-patient wards
Patient and staff perceptions of in-patient psychiatric wards were
assessed over 18 months. We also investigated whether the type of ward or
service structure affected these perceptions. We included triage and
routine care. The goal was to include at least 50% of eligible patients
The most dramatic change was a significant deterioration in all
experiences over the courseof the study. Systems of care or specific
wards did not affect patient experience but staff were more dissatisfied
in the triage system.
This is the first report of deterioration in perceptions of the
therapeutic in-patient environment that has been captured in a rigorous
way. It may reflect contemporaneous experiences across the National
Health Service of budget reductions and increased throughput. The ward
systems we investigated did not improve patient experience and triage may
have been detrimental to staff.
Attempts have been made to improve the efficiency of in-patient acute care. A novel method has been the development of a ‘triage system’ in which patients are assessed on admission to develop plans for discharge or transfer to an in-patient ward.
To compare a triage admission system with a traditional system.
Length of stay and readmission data for all admissions in a 1-year period between the two systems were compared using the participating trust's anonymised records.
Despite reduced length of stay on the actual triage ward, the average length of stay was not reduced and the triage system did not lead to a greater number of readmissions. There was no significant difference in costs between the two systems.
Based on our findings we cannot conclude that the triage system reduced length of stay, but we can conclude that it does not increase the number of readmissions as some have feared.
Moodscope is an entirely service-user-developed online mood-tracking and feedback tool with built-in social support, designed to stabilize and improve mood. Many free internet tools are available with no assessment of acceptability, validity or usefulness. This study provides an exemplar for future assessments.
A mixed-methods approach was used. Participants with mild to moderate low mood used the tool for 3 months. Correlations between weekly assessments using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Assessment (GAD-7) with daily Moodscope scores were examined to provide validity data. After 3 months, focus groups and questionnaires assessed use and usability of the tool.
Moodscope scores were correlated significantly with scores on the PHQ-9 and the GAD-7 for all weeks, suggesting a valid measure of mood. Low rates of use, particularly toward the end of the trial, demonstrate potential problems relating to ongoing motivation. Questionnaire data indicated that the tool was easy to learn and use, but there were concerns about the mood adjectives, site layout and the buddy system. Participants in the focus groups found the tool acceptable overall, but felt clarification of the role and target group was required.
With appropriate adjustments, Moodscope could be a useful tool for clinicians as a way of initially identifying patterns and influences on mood in individuals experiencing low mood. For those who benefit from ongoing mood tracking and the social support provided by the buddy system, Moodscope could be an ongoing adjunct to therapy.
Increasing therapeutic inpatient activities may improve the quality and outcomes of care. Evaluation of these interventions is necessary including assessment of cost-effectiveness. The aim of this paper is to describe the development and reliability of a tool to collect information on care contacts and therapeutic activities of patients on inpatient wards.
The development of the tool consisted of: 1) literature review, 2) interviews with staff, 3) expert consultation, 4) feasibility study, 5) focus groups with staff members, and 6) reliability tests. Service use data were collected with the tool and costs calculated.
Service users' reported more use of activities than that contained in case notes during a 7-day period. This resulted in a cost difference of £10 per person. Case notes had more one-to-one nursing contacts, with a cost difference of £4 per person. One-day data showed less nurse contact time reported by participants compared to observational data (p < 0.001) but similar use of activities. Costs were £46 for the tool and £67 for the observational data.
This tool is a good source of information on the number of activities attended by service users and contacts with psychiatrists. There is some disagreement with other sources of information on interactions between service users and nurses, possibly reflecting different definitions of a ‘meaningful contact’. This does not have a major impact on cost given that for much of the care received there is reasonable agreement.
Referral for brief intervention among people who misuse alcohol is reported to be effective but its impact among those who present to services following deliberate self-harm (DSH) has not been examined.
Consecutive patients who presented to an Emergency Department (ED) following an episode of DSH were screened for alcohol misuse. Those found to be misusing alcohol were randomly assigned to brief intervention plus a health information leaflet or to a health information leaflet alone. The primary outcome was whether the patient reattended an ED following a further episode of DSH during the subsequent 6 months. Secondary outcomes were alcohol consumption, mental health and satisfaction with care measured 3 and 6 months after randomization.
One hundred and three people took part in the study. Follow-up data on our primary outcome were obtained for all subjects and on 63% for secondary outcomes. Half those referred for brief intervention received it. Repetition of DSH was strongly associated with baseline alcohol consumption, but not influenced by treatment allocation. There was a non-significant trend towards the number of units of alcohol consumed per drinking day being lower among those randomized to brief intervention.
Referral for brief intervention for alcohol misuse following an episode of DSH may not influence the likelihood of repetition of self-harm. Longer-term interventions may be needed to help people who deliberately harm themselves and have evidence of concurrent alcohol misuse.
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