Mckeown, M , Anderson, J, Bennett, Anthony Joseph William and Clayton, P
Gender Politics and Secure Services For Women: Reflections on a study of staff understandings of challenging behaviour.
Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 10
This paper discusses the findings of a Q methodological study that investigated the complexity of professional understandings of (attitudes towards) residents in a secure unit for women with learning disabilities and challenging behaviours. Particular attention is afforded to the critical debate regarding women in psychiatric and secure care, including the significant contribution made to this literature by feminist perspectives. A multiprofessional group of staff (n = 38) participated in the study and nine distinct accounts of women's challenging behaviour are described. Despite a considerable amount of recent policy concern with the position of women in psychiatric services, the findings of this research suggest that many front line staff are reluctant to highlight gender in their explanations of women's behaviour. This supports the assertion by Williams et al. (2001), who were involved in the National Gender Training Initiative (NGTI), that most critical theorizing about women's mental health has had minimal impact at the level of individuals’ understandings of these important issues. This state of affairs suggests a powerful case for the expansion of staff training as provided in the NGTI, which makes gender central to understanding and emphasizes feminist perspectives.
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