It's a little bit like prison, but not that much: Aboriginal women's experiences of an acute mental health inpatient unit

Patricia Bradley, Anne Lowell, Cherise Daiyi, Karen Macklin, Tricia Nagel, Sandra Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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This research aimed to gain an understanding of the acute mental health inpatient experience as described by Aboriginal women during admission. It recorded for the first time the words of Aboriginal women within the inpatient unit, including their perceptions of factors which may promote or impede a culturally safe environment. Eleven Aboriginal women inpatients gave interviews before discharge from the inpatient unit. Five Aboriginal Reference Group (ARG) members with experience of the inpatient unit also gave interviews, adding ‘insider–outsider’ perspectives. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, entered into NVivo software, and analysed inductively to raise codes and develop themes. Five interconnecting themes emerged: Social Context: life experience preceding, shaping, and following admission; Connection: with kin, community, and culture. Control: self-determination, legally and physically curtailed; Caring: actions promoting reconnection and self-determination; Communication: conveying caring and supporting agency, reconnection, and return to community. Findings reflected inpatient issues reported in previous studies, adding insights into the cultural concerns of Aboriginal women and offering practical clinical implications for culturally secure service delivery in an inpatient setting. Existing literature offered a basis for developing the model offered here for transcultural interaction for recovery in an inpatient setting. Attention to these findings can enhance Aboriginal women's inpatient experience and promote further research. The article complies with the COREQ-32 checklist for describing qualitative studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)917-930
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Issue number4
Early online date25 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


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