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January 1972

Changing Ward Atmosphere Through Staff Discussion of the Perceived Ward Environment

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1972;26(1):35-41. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1972.01750190037008

The paper describes an attempt to change the treatment environments of a psychiatric ward in a direction more consonant with the stated preferences of the staff. The Ward Atmosphere Scale (WAS), which measures ten dimensions of ward cultures, eg, Affiliation, Insight, Aggression, Clarity, and Autonomy, was used to assess the treatment environment. Patients and staff described the ward as it was (real ward) and staff also described their conceptions of an ideal ward. The results were discussed in detail with staff in change-oriented feedback sessions. Retesting indicated that there were significant changes in ward environment and that both patients and staff perceived the ward as being closer to the staff's conception of an ideal ward after feedback. Systematic feedback about how patients and staff perceived the ward environment directly facilitated staff attempts geared toward changing various aspects of the ward culture.