Trauma Does Not Predict Patients’ Experiences With Constant Observation

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Little is known about which patient factors are associated with a positive or negative experience of constant observation (CO) in a general hospital or emergency department. We hypothesized that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) would predict a more negative experience with CO.


A survey regarding the positive and negative aspects of being observed by a staff member was administered to 83 patients who were admitted to an inpatient psychiatric unit after experiencing CO; 55 of these patients had a history of trauma and 13 were diagnosed with PTSD. A total score reflecting the overall positive or negative experience of CO was calculated for each survey response. The survey also included 4 follow-up questions regarding the importance of individual observer characteristics (eg, sex), which were scored individually along a Likert scale.


Neither PTSD, trauma history, nor any other participant characteristic was associated with either a positive or negative overall experience with CO. Female participants were more likely than males to consider the sex and age of their staff observers to be important.


Neither PTSD nor trauma history predicts a negative or positive experience with CO. A predictive model regarding which patients are likely to experience CO positively or negatively remains to be established.

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