A systematic comparison of feedback and staff discussion in changing the ward atmosphere


Ian James Deportment of Clinical Psychology Denethorpe, Stockton Road Ryhope Sunderland


The efficacy of therapeutic programmes depends on several characteristics of the treatment environment For this reason therapists are increasingly directing their efforts towards changing the social characteristics of treatment units This study aimed to promote change in social climate by providing nursing staff with structured information about their unit The ‘real’ and ‘ideal’ social climate of the unit was defined and assessed using the Ward Atmosphere Scale All staff were asked to complete it during an assessment penod Feedback about their perception of the unit was provided to staff in two ways One group of staff received written feedback only, a second group received in addition the opportunity to discuss the feedback and strategies for reducing the real—ideal discrepancies in four once-monthly meetings The effect of the feedback on the social climate of the unit was ascertained by further assessment using the WAS and from interviews with all staff The evaluation suggested that the feedback had contributed to changes in several procedures in the unit and to a reduction in the real—ideal discrepancies for the systems maintenance elements The effect was greater for the group of staff who had the opportunity to discuss the feedback in a formal setting