The desire and fear of discharge from mental health units by people with autistic spectrum conditions: a phenomenological study

Maloret, Paul, Scott, Patricia and Sharma, Shivani (2022) The desire and fear of discharge from mental health units by people with autistic spectrum conditions: a phenomenological study. British Journal of Mental Health Nursing. pp. 1-14. ISSN 2052-496X

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Background/aims Anxiety is a common characteristic for people who live with an autistic spectrum condition and while studies on anxiety in this population are commonplace and case studies correlate anxiety with mental health service experience, little is known about the actual triggers of anxiety and its manifestations, particularly during the discharge process. This aim of this study was to explore how mental health inpatients with autistic spectrum conditions experienced and coped with discharge from a UK acute mental health inpatient facility. Methods: Between 2018 and 2019, audio-recorded semi-structured interviews captured the experiences of 20 adults from the east of England, who were former psychiatric inpatients with an established diagnosis of an autistic spectrum condition. Results: Themes were identified through interpretative phenomenological data analysis, which explained participants’ reflections regarding the situations and events within the acute care mental health facility that triggered their anxiety, behavioural manifestations of anxiety and responses to the discussion of discharge. Broad behavioural patterns were established that could be associated with their anxiety, such as self-harming or exhibiting aggressive and violent behaviours. Conclusions: The anxiety caused by the discussion of the discharge process appears to be overlooked by mental health practitioners, so attention to potentially anxiety-inducing dialogue is needed when planning discharge from acute care mental health services. The nature of patient–practitioner interactions and dialogue leading up to discharge needs to be handled with sensitivity to the unique needs of the patient so that the experience of discharge becomes less daunting. Transformative research is required to clearly understand the experiences of this vulnerable group and to act as a vehicle to enhance pre-discharge dialogue and support.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Acute mental health admission, Anxiety, Autistic spectrum conditions, Communication, Discharge
Depositing User: RED Unit Admin
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2022 12:59
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2022 12:59

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