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Journal article: Time Use in Forensic Psychiatry

This article presents the results of a time-use study for two Australian forensic patients diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia who were in custody for violent offenses in two different forensic environments. During the study, both participants moved from a prison to a newly built secure mental health unit, and data was collected at both sites. The study was conducted as a naturalistic inquiry and data was collected using a 48-hour time diary, semi-structured interview, the Occupational Performance History Interview II, observation of the environment, a review of policies governing the two settings and a staff focus group with four health professionals. Data suggested that the prison environment was marked by social isolation, occupational imbalance, engagement in delusionally driven activities, and an overall sense of fear and danger. Although these themes were not as prevalent in the mental health unit, the participants' lives were still dominated by sleeping, passive leisure activities, and restricted access to normal activities of daily living.

Other findings from this study suggested it is necessary to understand forensic patients’ individual occupational history and illness experience to appreciate their current time use, and its relationship to health promoting occupational engagement. Both the OPHI-II and the time diaries proved to be effective tools in gathering information to fully understand the person's lived experience.

O’Connell, M., Farnworth, L. and Hanson, E. (2010). Time Use in Forensic Psychiatry: A Naturalistic Inquiry into Two Forensic Patients in Australia. The International Journal of Forensic Mental Health, 9(2), 101-109.