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Real world application of an intervention to reduce absconding


L. Bowers, Professor of Psychiatric Nursing, St Bartholomew School of Nursing & Midwifery, City University, Philpot St., London E1 2EA, UK, E-mail:;


Absconding by acute psychiatric inpatients is associated with risk of harm to self and others, and creates considerable emotional as well as tangible burdens for staff. Previous research has led to the development of an effective nursing intervention to reduce absconding. In this project, that intervention was encapsulated in a self-training package, and offered freely to wards across the UK who agreed to implement it and audit the results. Fifteen wards completed this distributed audit, and achieved overall a 25.5% decrease in their absconding rates, as measured by official reports. The results support the efficacy of the intervention, and indicate that significant reductions can be made in absconding rates from unlocked or partially locked acute psychiatric wards.