A Natural Observation of Staff-Patient Interactions at a Psychiatric Hospital




Schlacks, Stephanie

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Communication between staff and patients at mental health facilities is understudied. Paul (1987) developed the Staff-Resident Interaction Chronograph (SRIC) to objectively measure staff-patient communication by observing their interactions. Research shows that staffing ratios are among the salient factors related to providing effective patient care. The following study combines these two methods to discuss influences of communication and staffing ratios on staff-patient interactions. Objective: Use the Staff-Resident Interaction Chronograph (SRIC) and staffing ratios to assess the effectiveness of communication between staff and patients at a psychiatric hospital. Methods: Conducted 51, 10 min observations of staff-patient interactions at a state psychiatric hospital using a modified version of the SRIC. Results: Comparisons were made between three units (Geriatric, dual diagnosis of MHMR, and Chronic stay), types of interactions (positive, neutral, or negative), and staffing ratios (low, medium, high). The McNemar-Bowker chi-square test was used for data analysis (x2 & p value). More frequent neutral and negative interactions were observed with low and high staff ratios, while more frequent positive interactions appeared with the middle staffing ratio. Discussion: Improvements in quality of interactions, may be enabled by the appropriate ratio of staff: patients, in turn, potentially leading to more frequent and successful patient discharges.



psychiatric hospital, staffing ratio, SRIC, staff-patient interaction, communication, Honors College


Schlacks, S. (2009). A natural observation of staff-patient interactions at a psychiatric hospital (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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