Establishing female-only areas in psychiatry wards to improve safety and quality of care for women

Australas Psychiatry. 2014 Dec;22(6):551-6. doi: 10.1177/1039856214556322. Epub 2014 Oct 30.


Objective: Our aim was to assess the impact of creating a female-only area within a mixed-gender inpatient psychiatry service, on female patient safety and experience of care.

Method: The Alfred hospital reconfigured one of its two psychiatry wards to include a female-only area. Documented incidents compromising the safety of women on each ward in the 6 months following the refurbishment were compared. Further, a questionnaire assessing perceived safety and experience of care was administered to female inpatients on both wards, and staff feedback was also obtained.

Results: The occurrence of documented incidents compromising females' safety was found to be significantly lower on the ward containing a female-only area. Women staying on this ward rated their perceived safety and experience of care significantly more positively than women staying where no such gender segregation was available. Further, the female-only area was identified by the majority of surveyed staff to provide a safer environment for female patients.

Conclusions: Establishing female-only areas in psychiatry wards is an effective way to improve the safety and experience of care for female patients.

Keywords: female-only; gender safety; gender-segregated model; mixed-gender; ward safety.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / psychology
  • Patient Safety / standards
  • Patient Safety / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Psychiatric Department, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Quality Improvement / organization & administration*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Victoria / epidemiology
  • Women's Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Young Adult