Attainment of safe, calm inpatient psychiatric wards that are conducive to positive therapeutic care is crucial. On such wards, rates of coerced medication, seclusion, manual restraint and other types of containment are comparatively low, and, usually, rates of conflict—for example, aggression, substance use, and absconding—are also low. Sometimes, however, wards maintain low rates of containment even when conflict rates are high. This study investigated wards with the counterintuitive combination of low containment and high conflict or high containment and low conflict.
The authors conducted a secondary analysis of cross-sectional data collected from 136 acute psychiatric wards across England in 2004–2005. The wards were categorized into four groups on the basis of median splits of containment and conflict rates: high conflict and high containment, high conflict and low containment, low conflict and low containment, and low conflict and high containment. Features significantly associated with these ward types were identified.
Among the variables significantly associated with the various typologies, some—for example, environmental quality—were changeable, and others—such as social deprivation of the area served—were fixed. High-conflict, low-containment wards had higher rates of male staff and lower-quality environments than other wards. Low-conflict, high-containment wards had higher numbers of beds. High-conflict, high-containment wards utilized more temporary staff as well as more unqualified staff. No overall differences were associated with low-conflict, low-containment wards.
Wards can make positive changes to achieve a low-containment, nonpunitive culture, even when rates of patient conflict are high.