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Thematic analysis of psychiatric patients' perceptions of nursing staff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Published copy (DOI)


  • Duncan Stewart
  • Heather Burrow
  • Alex Duckworth
  • Jasbir Dhillon
  • Sarah Fife
  • Siobhan Kelly
  • Sophie Marsh-Picksley
  • Emma Massey
  • John O'Sullivan
  • Maria Qureshi
  • Steve Wright
  • Len Bowers


Publication details

JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Nursing
DatePublished - Feb 2015
Issue number1
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)82-90
Original languageEnglish


Therapeutic and informal interactions with nurses are integral to the quality of care that psychiatric patients receive. How well these interactions are performed, and their impact on the experience and outcomes of inpatient care, have not been subject to systematic evaluation. The aim of the present study was to examine patients' perceptions of the personal and professional qualities of nursing staff and how these contribute to the ward environment. Patients (n = 119) from 16 acute psychiatric wards were interviewed using a schedule developed by a service-user researcher. Transcriptions of interviews were coded and organized into six themes: staff duties, staff disposition, control, communication and engagement, therapeutic ward environment, and consistency. Patients recognized that nurses have a difficult and stressful job, but frequently expressed feelings of anger, frustration, and hopelessness about their experience of the wards. Patients frequently felt that nursing staff did not understand issues from their perspective or attempt to empathize with them. The findings indicate poorly-communicated and inconsistent care. Initiatives to improve patients' experiences of acute psychiatric wards are urgently needed.

Bibliographical note

© 2014 Australian College of Mental Health Nurses Inc.

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