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The side effects of service changes: exploring the longitudinal impact of participation in a randomised controlled trial (DOORWAYS) on staff perceptions of barriers to change

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posted on 2023-07-26, 14:50 authored by Caroline Laker, Matteo Cella, Deborah Agbediro, Felicity Callard, Til Wykes
Background: Staff and service users have expressed concerns that service improvements in British mental health wards have been slow or transient. It is possible that certain changes are positive for some (e.g. service users), but negative for others (e.g. staff), which may affect implementation success. In this study, we explore whether a programme of change to improve the therapeutic milieu on mental health wards influenced staff perceptions of barriers to change, 12 months after implementation. Method: A cluster randomised controlled trial called DOORWAYS was conducted on eight British, inner-city acute mental health wards. Randomisation was achieved using a list randomly generated by a computer. A psychologist trained ward staff (mainly nurses) to deliver evidence-based groups and supported their initial implementation. The impact of these changes was measured over 12 months (when 4 wards were randomised), according to nurses’ perceptions of barriers to change (VOCALISE), using unstructured multivariate linear regression models. This innovative analysis method allows maximum use of data in randomised controlled trials with reduced sample sizes due to substantial drop out rates. The contextual influences of occupational status (staff) and of workplace setting (ward) were also considered. Results: Staff who participated in the intervention had significantly worse perceptions of barriers to change at follow up. The perceptions of staff in the control group did not change over time. In both groups (N = 120), direct care staff had more negative perceptions of barriers to change, and perceptions varied according to ward. Across time, direct care staff in the intervention group became more negative than those in the control group. Conclusion: Participation in this program of change, worsened staff perceptions of barriers to change. In addition, occupational status (being from the direct care group) had a negative effect on perceptions of barriers to change, an effect that continued across time and was worse in the intervention group. Those providing direct care should be offered extra support when changes are introduced and through the implementation process. More effort should be placed around reducing the perceived burden of innovation for staff in mental health wards.



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BMC Psychiatry




BioMed Central

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  • Published version


  • eng

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Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine & Social Care

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