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Absconding behaviour: an exploratory investigation in an acute inpatient unit

Meehan, T., Morrison, P.A. and McDougall, S. (1999) Absconding behaviour: an exploratory investigation in an acute inpatient unit. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 33 (4). pp. 533-537.

Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1440-1614.1999.00603.x
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Abstract

Objective: The aim of this study is to identify patient and environmental characteristics associated with absconding behaviour, and to gain an understanding of the behaviour from the patients’ perspective.

Method: A prospective analysis of 77 consecutive incidents of absent-without-leave (AWOL) behaviour (n = 51 patients) was undertaken to develop a profile of patient and environmental characteristics associated with absconding behaviour. In addition, semi-structured interviews were carried out with a subsample of 14 patients within 24 h of returning to hospital from being AWOL.

Results: Those who absconded were male (58%), under 40 years of age (74%), admitted involuntarily (78%), and had a diagnosis of schizophrenia (42%). One-third of all AWOL incidents resulted from repeated absconding by the same individuals. The first 7 days post admission was a high-risk period for absconding behaviour. Issues raised in the interviews with patients identified a number of situational and environmental factors which are likely to increase the risk of absconding.

Conclusions: Situational and environmental factors are more likely than patient characteristics to be predictive of absconding behaviour.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Wiley
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/5021
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