BACKGROUND: Obesity is a significant health inequality within forensic secure care mental health/learning disability inpatient settings. Patients may be at increased risk of developing preventable long-term conditions/premature death. This study investigated staff views on patient weight gain, how it affects patients and how to better manage patient weight in this setting. Furthermore, the research explored the culture of food being used as a 'treat' and the perceived impact of 'treats' on weight.
METHODS: A two-phase mixed methods approach was taken to explore staff views on patient weight gain and the 'treat' culture on adult forensic secure care inpatient wards in one NHS Mental Health Trust in the north-east of England. Phase one was an online survey, and phase two consisted of semi-structured qualitative interviews. The quantitative survey data were analysed using descriptive statistics. Thematic analysis was used for the open-ended survey questions and interview data.
RESULTS: The survey had 49 responses out of a possible 380 (13%). Ninety-two per cent of staff participants viewed patient weight gain as an area for concern, citing a range of reasons for weight gain. Weight gain was considered a risk to developing long-term health conditions and poor mental health. Nine participants were interviewed. Six themes were identified suggesting why patients might gain weight in forensic secure care, for example, patient history, staff behaviours, the surrounding 'treat' culture in this environment, along with suggestions of what could be improved to manage patient weight.
CONCLUSIONS: People detained in forensic secure care may be more at risk of weight gain due to their history, the secure care environment and the 'treat' culture adopted in these environments.