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In recent years, concerns have been raised that too many patients stay for too long in forensic psychiatric services and that this is a particular problem in those with an intellectual disability.
To compare the characteristics, needs, and care pathways of long-stay patients with and without intellectual disability within forensic psychiatric hospital settings in England.
File reviews and questionnaires were completed for all long-stay patients in high secure and a representative sample of those in medium secure settings in England. Between-group analyses comparing patients with and without intellectual disability are reported.
Of the 401 long-stay patients, the intellectual disability and non-intellectual disability groups were strikingly similar on many sociodemographic, clinical and forensic variables. The intellectual disability group had significantly lower lengths of stay, fewer criminal sections, restriction orders and prison transfers, and higher levels of behavioural incidents and risk assessment scores.
In spite of similar offence histories and higher risk levels, those with intellectual disability appear to be diverted away from the criminal justice system and have shorter lengths of stay. This has implications about the applicability of the Transforming Care programme to this group.
There is limited empirical information on service-level outcome domains and indicators for the large number of people with intellectual disabilities being treated in forensic psychiatric hospitals.
This study identified and developed the domains that should be used to measure treatment outcomes for this population.
A systematic review of the literature highlighted 60 studies which met eligibility criteria; they were synthesised using content analysis. The findings were refined within a consultation and consensus exercises with carers, patients and experts.
The final framework encompassed three a priori superordinate domains: (a) effectiveness, (b) patient safety and (c) patient and carer experience. Within each of these, further sub-domains emerged from our systematic review and consultation exercises. These included severity of clinical symptoms, offending behaviours, reactive and restrictive interventions, quality of life and patient satisfaction.
To index recovery, services need to measure treatment outcomes using this framework.
Relational security is an important component of care and risk assessment in mental health services, but the utility of available measures remains under-researched. This study analysed the psychometric properties of two relational security tools, the See Think Act (STA) scale and the Relational Security Explorer (RSE).
The STA scale had good internal consistency and could highlight differences between occupational groups, whereas the RSE did not perform well as a psychometric measure.
The measures provide unique and complimentary perspectives on the quality of relational security within secure services, but have some limitations. Use of the RSE should be restricted to its intended purpose; to guide team discussions about relational security, and services should refrain from collecting and aggregating this data. Until further research validates their use, relational security measurement should be multidimensional and form part of a wider process of service quality assessment.
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