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Journal article: Service user experiences of occupation in forensic mental health

This article presents the findings of a qualitative study which explored the occupational engagement of service users detained in forensic units. Legal and institutional restrictions on occupation have implications for the health and wellbeing of such service users.

Twenty-six current forensic mental health service users participated in five focus groups, which were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and subjected to constant comparative analysis. The participants highlighted previous occupations, current occupations and their hopes. Key aspects were control over decision-making, motivation and support, generating suggestions in addition to their positive experiences of occupational therapy.

Craik et al conclude that institutional barriers could be overcome with a dynamic balance between risk management and mental health promotion through occupation. This would demand a sustained focus on occupation for everyone involved in providing care and treatment in forensic settings.

Craik, C., Bryant, W., Ryan, A., Barclay, S., Brooke, N., Mason, A, and Russell, P. (2010).  A qualitative study of service user experiences of occupation in forensic mental health. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 57(5), 339-44.