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Design in mind: eliciting service user and frontline staff perspectives on psychiatric ward design through participatory methods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-121
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Issue number2
Early online date9 Feb 2016
Accepted/In press23 Dec 2015
E-pub ahead of print9 Feb 2016


King's Authors


Background: Psychiatric ward design may make an important contribution to patient outcomes and well-being. However, research is hampered by an inability to assess its effects robustly. This paper reports on a study which deployed innovative methods to capture service user and staff perceptions of ward design.
Method: User generated measures of the impact of ward design were developed and tested on four acute adult wards using participatory methodology. Additionally, inpatients took photographs to illustrate their experience of the space in two wards. Data were compared across wards.
Results: Satisfactory reliability indices emerged based on both service user and staff responses. Black and minority ethnic (BME) service users and those with a psychosis spectrum diagnosis have more positive views of the ward layout and fixtures. Staff members have more positive views than service users, while priorities of staff and service users differ. Inpatient photographs prioritise hygiene, privacy and control and address symbolic aspects of the ward environment.
Conclusions: Participatory and visual methodologies can provide robust tools for an evaluation of the impact of psychiatric ward design on users.

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