Social climate and staff based interventions in forensic mental health settings. A research portfolio
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Aims: The aims of this thesis were focused on the social climate of inpatient forensic mental health settings. Firstly, the study reviewed the literature of qualitative studies of staff and patient experiences of social climate. Secondly, the utility of a case study methodology to examine innovations to practice in forensic mental health settings are discussed. Thirdly, a longitudinal case study aimed to examine the impact of a Mentalization based treatment (MBT) training and case consultation intervention on the functioning of a low secure ward. Method: A systematic review and qualitative synthesis of social climate in forensic mental health settings was completed using the ‘best-fit’ framework approach. Secondly, a critical analysis of case study methodology was presented based on key decision points. A longitudinal ward case study with staff (n=37) and patient (n=7) participants examined the impact of staff MBT training and MBT based case consultation sessions. MBT based case consultation sessions ran on the ward over an eight month period. Data was collected through a range of methods including questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, ward observations and routinely reported data. The case study data was tested through a pattern matching approach with reference to rival explanations. Results: The systematic review identified 20 papers that met the inclusion criteria. The framework synthesis identified 22 themes related to social climate, which were organised in a conceptual model. Ten themes were seen to represent the experience of social climate. Consideration of the applicability of the case study method to forensic settings found the method to be feasible and acceptable to staff though a limitation is that outcomes are tentative and open to rival explanations. Positive impacts of the training and case consultation intervention included an increase in enthusiasm for working with patients with a personality disorder diagnosis and evidence of some increased team cohesion. The main rival explanation identified was the impact of changes to the composition of the staff and patient group. Conclusions: The systematic review findings highlight that current quantitative measures of social climate may not fully represent the construct. The conceptual model developed allows for generation of potential interventions to improve social climate. In the case study, staff reported positive perspectives of both MBT training and the case consultation sessions. The intervention did not appear to impact on patient motivation, though patients reported positive changes in staff behaviour. The case study method was seen as applicable to forensic mental health settings and provided interpretable data useful for analytical generalisations, and clinically in considering innovations to practice.