Although patients value evidence-based therapeutic activities, little is known about nurses' perceptions.
To investigate whether implementing an activities training programme would positively alter staff perceptions of the ward or be detrimental through the increased workload (trial registration: ISRCTN 06545047).
We conducted a stepped wedge cluster randomised trial involving 16 wards with psychology-led nurse training as the intervention. The main outcome was a staff self-report measure of perceptions of the ward (VOTE) and secondary outcomes measuring potential deterioration were the Index of Work Satisfaction (IWS) and the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). Data were analysed using mixed-effects regression models, with repeated assessments from staff over time.
There were 1075 valid outcome measurements from 539 nursing staff. VOTE scores did not change over time (standardised effect size 0.04, 95% CI –0.09 to 0.18, P = 0.54), neither did IWS or MBI scores (IWS, standardised effect size 0.02, 95% CI –0.11 to 0.16, P = 0.74; MBI standardised effect size –0.09, 95% CI –0.24 to 0.06, P = 0.24). There was a mean increase of 1.5 activities per ward (95% CI –0.4 to 3.4, P = 0.12) and on average 6.3 more patients attended groups (95% CI –4.1 to 16.6, P = 0.23) following training. Staff feedback on training was positive.
Our training programme did not change nurses' perceptions of the ward, job satisfaction or burnout. During the study period many service changes occurred, most having a negative impact through increased pressure on staffing, patient mix and management so it is perhaps unsurprising that we found no benefits or reduction in staff skill.
Declaration of interest