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A Journal on Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychopharmacology

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Social Psychiatry
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Minerva Psichiatrica 2004 September;45(3):133-40

language: Italian

Ward atmosphere in a psychiatric inpatient service in Italy

Carrà G., Giroletti A., Scioli R., Barale F


Aim. There is great need for useful indicators of quality of care for psychiatric inpatient treatment. The aims of this study are: a) to investigate ward atmosphere characteristics in a psychiatric inpatient service in Italy; b) to explore factors influencing, as independent variables, the ward atmosphere within the staff group.
Methods. A cross sectional study was performed in a psychiatric inpatient service in a general hospital in Pavia, using a benchmarking approach. Both medical and nurse staff (N=46) filled in the Italian version of the Ward Atmosphere Scale (WAS), implementing a case-control design for specific subgroups within the staff group.
Results. The Pavia inpatient program significantly differs, in Ward Atmosphere characteristics, from the American and British normative samples with lower mean scores in: Involve-ment, Support, Autonomy, Practical Orienta-tion, Anger and aggression, Order and |organization, Program clarity and Staff control subscales, but higher in Personal problems orientation. Medical staff shows significantly higher scores in Spontaneity, Personal problems orientation and Program clarity but lower in Autonomy, compared with nurses. All male professionals emphasize Order and |organization, while staff having been working 10 or more years in mental health, shows significantly higher scores in Autonomy.
Conclusion. Peculiar features in Ward Atmosphere seem related to Italian psychiatric wards, probably because of specific mental health care system. Different subgroups within the staff are likely to determine specific characteristics in the Ward Atmosphere.

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