Patients’ Perceptions of Safety and Debriefing in Forensic Mental Health Care in Finland : Journal of Forensic Nursing

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Patients’ Perceptions of Safety and Debriefing in Forensic Mental Health Care in Finland

Asikainen, Jaana MSc1; Vehviläinen-Julkunen, Katri PhD, RN, RM, FEANS2; Repo-Tiihonen, Eila PhD, MD1; Louheranta, Olavi PhD, ThM1

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Journal of Forensic Nursing 19(3):p 187-196, 7/9 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/JFN.0000000000000436



Safety is of paramount importance to patients and staff in forensic mental health hospitals. Previous research has focused on organizational and nurses’ perceptions of safety and violence in psychiatric wards. However, little is known about how patients view their safety. This study aimed to describe how patient debriefing can improve safety.


Qualitative research using thematic analysis was used. Data were collected by semistructured interviews and debriefing forms. Inpatient interviews (n = 45) were conducted between June and July 2018, with debriefing forms (n = 376) collected retrospectively.


Forensic inpatient responses were divided into two main categories: psychological and physical security. Psychological safety included care culture and patient-related themes. Responses on care culture highlighted weaknesses in nurse–patient communication, whereas patient-related themes related to respondents’ descriptions of the challenges posed by mental illness. Physical safety related to both the environment and patient-related themes, with various restrictions and environmental distractions seen by respondents as negatively affecting patient safety.


Patients who participated in the study felt that care culture, especially communication with nurses, most significantly impacted their safety. Forensic hospitals should consider patients’ perceptions of their care while systematically gathering information through debriefing, as these practices can contribute to the development of a safer care environment. The next step will be clarifying how changes in nursing practices and the care environment can be used to prevent violence in psychiatric wards.

Copyright © 2023 International Association of Forensic Nurses

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