Associations between ward climate and patient characteristics in a secure forensic mental health service




Geoffrey L. Dickens, Mareike Suesse, Pieter Snyman & Marco Picchioni

The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology

02 Apr 2014



Ward climate is associated with patient satisfaction and, potentially, with improved outcomes but increased understanding of its relationship with individual patient characteristics is required. We investigated relationships between patient (N = 63) gender, perceived risk, risk behaviour, therapeutic engagement (session attendance), psychopathology and ward climate in a forensic psychiatric hospital. Lower security levels were significantly associated with better patient cohesion (PC), experienced safety (ES) and therapeutic hold (TH). Female gender predicted PC and ES. Higher perceived risk was associated with lower PC after controlling for security level and gender. Diagnosis of personality disorder or psychosis was associated with higher ES. Lower levels of engagement predicted greater TH. The relationship between patient characteristics and ward climate in forensic settings is complex. Prospective studies are needed to further establish determinants of ward climate, particularly those aspects of patient risk that are associated with poorer PC.