The effects of a staff-training program in behavior management and social-learning principles on staff-patient interactions within a psychiatric rehabilitation inpatient unit

Lindsay S. Schenkel, Sandra M. Wilkniss, Adam Savitz, William D. Spaulding, Steven M. Silverstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Despite the existence of effective behavioral interventions for people diagnosed with serious mental illness (SMI), these continue to be underutilized. Barriers to implementation include a low frequency of staff-patient interactions, as well as a lack of knowledge about, and negative attitudes toward, behavioral interventions. Therefore, we examined the effects of a mandatory behavioral staff-training program on staff-patient interactions on a long-term psychiatric inpatient program for individuals with SMI. Staff-training consisted of two-phases: didactic training followed by a written exam, and in vivo training and assessment. From pre-to posttraining, all staff demonstrated increased positive and therapeutic behaviors and decreased negative behaviors when interacting with patients. Additionally, at baseline, nonmedical staff (psychologists, social workers) displayed significantly more therapeutic and fewer negative behaviors compared with medical staff (psychiatrists, nurses, mental health workers), and this pattern persisted at posttraining despite improvements in both groups. Importantly, completion of the staff-training program was associated with improvements in patient behavior. Although both written and in vivo test scores significantly predicted change in negative staff behaviors toward patients, the in vivo test performance increased predictive ability over and above that of written test performance. Staff who disagreed with behavioral management principles displayed less improvement in negative behaviors from pre-to postassessment. These data have implications for clarifying staff training needs in programs for chronically ill people with SMI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-431
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Volume90
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Inpatient
  • Psychiatric rehabilitation
  • Schizophrenia
  • Staff training
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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