Use of personal electronic devices by psychiatric inpatients: benefits, risks and attitudes of patients and staff – 2018

The study aimed to evaluate the attitudes of patients and staff in relation to the potential benefits and risks of allowing psychiatric inpatients controlled access to personal electronic devices (PEDs), and to document a snapshot audit of practice within the mental health inpatient units of New South Wales, Australia.

Psychiatric inpatients and staff at Royal North Shore Hospital’s Mental Health inpatient units were surveyed, and an audit of the policies of the psychiatric inpatients of New South Wales was undertaken.

Access to PEDs is denied in 85% of New South Wales psychiatric inpatient units. While patients and staff appear to concur on the risks of access to PEDs and the need for risk assessment and rules, compared to patients, staff appear to underestimate the importance of PEDs to maintaining social connection and recovery.

This study may assist in the formulation of local policy and procedure to allow a more recovery-oriented approach to the question of whether patients should have access to their PEDs while in hospital.

Nick O’Connor, Katherine Zantos, Viviana Sepulveda-Flores
Australasian Psychiatry, February 20, 2018