To study the views of staff and patients on the use of sniffer dogs to detect illicit drugs and the prosecution of in-patients suspected of taking illicit drugs. A 15-item self-report questionnaire was given to all in-patients and staff who had any contact with patients in a medium-secure unit. Responses to the individual statements were measured on a five-point Likert scale and staff and patients' responses were compared.
We achieved a response rate of 63% (patient response rate, 71.6%; staff response rate, 60.7%). Overall there were fewer differences than anticipated, although, as expected, staff viewed the impact of illicit drugs more negatively than patients, and on the other hand, patients viewed the use of sniffer dogs and police involvement more negatively than the staff did.
Notice ought to be taken of the discordance between staff and patients' views (particularly in relation to consent and confidentiality) when attempting to detect and manage illicit drug use among psychiatric in-patients.
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