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The impact of ward climate on staff perceptions of barriers to research-driven service changes on mental health wards: A cross-sectional study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

King's Authors

Abstract

What is known on the subject?: To date, improvements on U.K. acute mental health wards have been difficult to sustain. The barriers to change may be context dependent. Mental health wards are volatile workplaces with service user violence/aggression, frequent staff and patient changes, and ongoing service improvements. The evidence suggests that burnout affects staff perceptions of barriers to change, and ward climate affects burnout. As two potentially important, independent predictors of staff perceptions of barriers to change, the impact of ward climate and burnout on how staff regard changes should be considered. What the paper adds to existing knowledge?: Elements of ward climate such as high numbers of incidents and temporary staff independently worsened mental health staff perceptions of barriers to change, in addition to negative impacts from burnout and occupational status. How staff perceived ward climate was also linked their perceptions of barriers to change; however, burnout was no longer a significant consideration with these variables. Staff with low job satisfaction and high interaction anxiety also had low confidence regarding changes. Staff with low job satisfaction were also demotivated towards changes. What are the implications for practice?: Ward climate is clearly an important factor in how nurses view organizational changes. In this study, nurses’ perceptions of barriers to change were worse if they viewed ward climate negatively, or if temporary staff and incident numbers were high. Staff perceptions of ward climate and barriers to change should be assessed, ahead of service changes. Developing change strategies based on such information is likely to produce better implementation outcomes. Specifically, targeting staff confidence and motivation (which are barriers to change) may improve how staff regard their ward climate. Abstract Introduction To create successful change programmes for mental health wards, it is necessary to understand which aspects of ward climate prevent change. Question Does ward climate influence mental health nurse's perceptions of barriers to change? Method Random-effects models were used to test whether the following ward climate variables influenced the outcome measure “staff perceptions of barriers to change” (VOCALISE) and its subscales (powerlessness/confidence/demotivation): (a) Perceptions of ward climate (VOTE: subscales included work intensity/job satisfaction/interaction anxiety). (b) Ward climate indicators (incidents/detention under the Mental Health Act (2007)/staffing/bed pressure). As known predictors of VOCALISE, burnout (Maslach Burnout Inventory) and occupational status were included in the models. Results Perceptions of ward climate (VOTE), incidents, temporary staff, occupational status and burnout significantly and negatively affected perceptions of barriers to change (VOCALISE). Staff with low job satisfaction (VOTE) and high interaction anxiety (VOTE) also had low confidence (VOCALISE). Staff with low job satisfaction (VOTE) were also demotivated (VOCALISE). Discussion Ward climate is an important predictor of how staff regard service changes in mental health wards. Implications for practice Staff perceptions of ward climate and barriers to change should be assessed ahead of service changes to identify pressures that impede progress and lower morale.

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