Absconding is increasingly being recognized as a problem within mental health settings with significant risks for consumers. This study examines absconding behaviours across three acute care wards within an Australian psychiatric hospital campus over a 12-month period. A descriptive statistical analysis determined the rate of absconding from 49 consumers who absconded 64 times. The absconding rate was 13.33% (absconding events), with most absconding events arising from males diagnosed with schizophrenia (57.14%) aged between 20 and 29 years, and with 62.50% of absconding events occurring whilst consumers were on their first 21-day detention order. Nearly half of all absconding events were by consumers who had absconded previously, with the highest proportion of events occurring during nursing handover. A profile of people who abscond, time of day of absconding, legal status and repeated absconding behaviours are described. The emergent profile of consumers who absconded within this study bears some similarities to that described in overseas research, although in this study consumers were slightly older and 25% of absconders were female. Of particular interest are findings that identify the timings of absconding events in relation to a consumer's legal status. Implications for practice, including assessment of risk of absconding and management, are considered.
- Acute care
- Psychiatric consumers