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The inpatient psychiatric unit as both a safe and unsafe place: Implications for absconding

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-01-23, 01:14 authored by E Muir-Cochrane, C Oster, J Grotto, Adam GeraceAdam Gerace, J Jones
Absconding from acute psychiatric inpatient units is a significant issue with serious social, economic, and emotional costs. A qualitative study was undertaken to explore the experiences of people (n=12) who had been held involuntarily under the local mental health act in an Australian inpatient psychiatric unit, and who had absconded (or attempted to abscond) during this time. The aim of the study was to explore why people abscond from psychiatric inpatient units, drawing on published work from health geography on the significance of the person-place encounter, and in particular the concept of 'therapeutic landscapes'. The findings show that the inpatient unit is perceived as a safe or unsafe place, dependent on the dialectical relationship between the physical, individual, social, and symbolic aspects of the unit. Consumers absconded when the unit was perceived as unsafe. Forming a therapeutic relationship with staff, familiarity with the unit, a comfortable environment, and positive experiences with other consumers all supported perceptions that the unit was safe, decreasing the likelihood of absconding. Findings extend existing work on the person-place encounter within psychiatric inpatient units, and bring new knowledge about the reasons why consumers abscond. Implications for practice are discussed. © 2012 Australian College of Mental Health Nurses Inc.

Funding

Category 3 - Industry and Other Research Income

History

Volume

22

Issue

4

Start Page

304

End Page

312

Number of Pages

9

eISSN

1447-0349

ISSN

1445-8330

Publisher

Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Asia, Australia

Peer Reviewed

Yes

Open Access

No

External Author Affiliations

Flinders University; City University London

Era Eligible

Yes

Journal

International Journal of Mental Health Nursing