Absconding of patients from an independent UK psychiatric hospital: a 3-year retrospective analysis of events and characteristics of absconders

Geoffrey L. Dickens*, Jacqueline Ann Campbell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticle

Abstract

The need for accurate local information on the scale, nature and outcome of abscondingor Absence Without Leave (AWOL) from an independent UK psychiatric hospital led tothis 3-year (1997–1999) retrospective analysis of of AWOL data. One hundred andforty-eight AWOL incidents involving 88 patients were identified. Absconders werefound to be significantly younger, more likely to be detained upon admission and morelikely to be unmarried than a control group (n= 1378) of non-absconders. There were nosignificant differences for sex, length of admission or ethnicity. Descriptive data on thecircumstances surrounding AWOL events are given, with at least 24 (16.2%) incidentshaving serious adverse outcomes. Baseline absconding rates are presented for the spe-cialist clinical divisions within the hospital. There is a need for more detailed studies ofabsconding by patients within the Adolescent Mental Health Service subgroup where theabsconding rate was relatively high and engagement in risk activity whilst AWOL rela-tively frequent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543–550
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Volume8
Issue number6
Early online date2 Sep 2003
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Keywords

  • absconding patients
  • AWOL incidence
  • mental health nurses
  • outcome

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