Background: A supportive ward atmosphere is considered by many to be a precondition for successful treatment in forensic psychiatry, but there is a clear need for a valid and economic climate evaluation instrument.
Aims: To validate a short questionnaire, designed for assessing forensic psychiatric wards. Climate dimensions measured with the 'Essen Climate Evaluation Schema' (EssenCES) are 'Therapeutic Hold', 'Patients' Cohesion and Mutual Support' and 'Safety' (versus threat of aggression and violence).
Method: In 17 forensic mental hospitals in Germany, patients and staff completed the EssenCES and other questionnaires. Problematic events were recorded over a period of 3 weeks on each ward.
Results: The anticipated three factor structure of the instrument was confirmed. The pattern of correlations also provided support for the validity of the subscales.
Conclusions: The climate questionnaire is an economic and valid instrument for assessing the ward atmosphere in forensic psychiatry. Findings from a pilot study in England give confidence to the structural validity of the English version too.
2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd