Exploring the use of body-worn cameras in acute mental health wards: A qualitative interview study with mental health patients and staff

Keiran Wilson, Una Foye, Ellen Thomas, Madeleine (nee Ellis) Chadwick, Sahil Dodhia, Jenny Allen-Lynn, Jude Allen-Lynn, Geoff Brennan, Alan Simpson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Body-worn cameras are increasingly being used as a violence prevention tool in inpatient mental health wards. However, there is a dearth of research on their use in these settings, particularly when it comes to patient perspectives. Objective: This study aimed to explore the perspectives of patients, mental health staff, and senior management on body-worn cameras to identify the possible impacts of this technology in inpatient mental health settings. Design: This was an exploratory qualitative study. Setting: We undertook interviews online and in-person on a number of acute inpatient wards across five mental health hospitals in England. Participants were recruited in-person, online via social media, and through professional networks. Participants: This study recruited 24 patients from acute wards, 25 staff from acute wards, six Mental Health Nursing Directors, and nine community-based patients. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted online and in-person. Interviews were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Ethical approval was granted by the Health Research Authority. Results: The subjective nature of how violence and aggression is defined shapes how staff and patients view the prospect of using body-worn cameras. Both staff and patients cited issues resulting from an underlying culture of mistrust in inpatient settings that leave staff and patients feeling unsafe. Body worn cameras may intensify power dynamics and undermine therapeutic relationships. Participants felt that engaging existing interventions and addressing systemic causes of violence and aggression should take priority over introducing body-worn cameras. Conclusions: There is no indication that staff or patients believe body-worn cameras will deter violence and aggression on inpatient mental health wards. They may serve as a tool for safeguarding and staff training, but there are still unexplored ethical concerns about their use and a lack of evidence to support use of this technology to deter violence in NHS mental health settings. Tweetable abstract: Mental health patients & staff have complex perspectives on controversial body-worn camera technology @thekeiranwilson @unafoye @maddych4dwick @gbrennancafc @cityalan.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104456
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Early online date21 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


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