Background: This small-scale study examines an often neglected patient group (service users in forensic mental health settings). The research investigates their therapeutic relationship with staff and which therapeutic relationship factors are associated with their level of satisfaction with services.
Methods: A cross sectional survey was undertaken in two medium secure units in the UK with seventy seven participants completing self-report measures examining service user satisfaction with services and their therapeutic relationship with staff. Multiple regression analysis was used to identify the main predictor variables associated with satisfaction with the service provided.
Results: The respondents had a generally positive view of services and also of their therapeutic relationships with staff. However, the therapeutic relationship scores were lower than those recorded in community samples. One predictor variable was significantly associated with service user satisfaction; feeling respected and well regarded.
Conclusions: The therapeutic relationship domain of being respected and well regarded by staff was identified as the most significant factor among the therapeutic relationship domains when examining the association with satisfaction with services. The important role mental health clinicians play in enabling service users to recognize they are being treated respectfully is noted as service users judge the degree of honesty, caring and interest that staff show in them. Staff also need to be available and accessible while having good listening and information giving skills. The importance of having both positive therapeutic relationships and service user satisfaction in forensic settings is also discussed.