hospitalHelping ward nurses to think psychologically about the reasons behind the behaviour of a patient with a diagnosis of psychosis can improve the staff-patient relationship, research has found.

The research, led by Dr Katherine Berry, a senior research fellow and clinical psychologist from The University of Manchester, found that nursing staff that used psychological formulations – a way of working out the reasons for a person’s behaviour and using this information to plan treatments – experienced an improved staff-patient relationship.  

Dr Berry’s research was carried out over four years in Manchester and involved 85 staff members and 51 service users.

The intervention could benefit frontline health workers and therefore improve care for service users, Dr Berry said: “Following the intervention, patients felt less criticised by staff and reported that there were better relationships with staff overall. Staff also reported feeling less alienated in their job roles.”

A 2012 report by the Schizophrenia Commission highlighted the high costs incurred by service users residing in psychiatric wards over long periods of time and the need to improve rehabilitation outcomes in this group. One key way to improve outcomes for the group is to improve the quality of therapeutic relationships with staff.

“Psychiatric staff members play a key role in the lives of people with psychosis and those in psychiatric rehabilitation services in particular,” added Dr Berry. “The intervention described in the seminar aims to improve the quality of staff-patient relationships and ultimately improve patient outcomes as well as lowering chances of staff burnout.”