Exploring the initial experience of hospitalisation to an acute psychiatric ward [2018]

Patient-reported satisfaction with inpatient psychiatric services, within the first few days of admission, is related to positive future outcomes. Despite its predictive value, little is known about this initial experience and what underlies these appraisals. The aim of this study was to qualitatively explore the initial experience of being admitted to an inpatient psychiatric ward.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 61 recently admitted patients across five psychiatric hospitals in London, England. Participants were purposively sampled to ensure a mix of experiences including people with high and low satisfaction scores as measured by the Client Assessment of Treatment. Thematic analysis was used to identify, analyse and report patterns within the data, with content analysis applied to determine whether certain themes were more common to either negative or positive appraisals.

Four broad themes were evident 1) ‘Best place for me right now?’ 2) ‘Different from out in society’ 3) ‘Moving from uncertainty to being informed’ and 4) ‘Relating & Alienating’. Individuals with very positive appraisals spoke most frequently of helpful relationships with both staff and other patients, and feeling cared for. They also spoke of having had previous admissions and the assessment process on entering the ward suggesting that these may be valuable experiences. Conversely, the group with very negative appraisals spoke of relationships that were alienating or where there was a perceived abuse of power. They described restrictions to their freedom, compared hospital to prison and generally had the view that hospital makes you worse.

The experience of hospital within the first few days of admission determines whether an individual has a positive or negative experience of their inpatient care. Reducing the impact of uncertainty and promoting good relationships may help services to improve the initial experience of hospital admission and ultimately improve future outcomes for patients.

Agnes Chevalier, Eleni Ntala, Catherine Fung, Stefan Priebe, Victoria J. Bird

PLOS ONE, September 4, 2018