The ward atmosphere of psychiatric care units has a major impact on treatment and satisfaction for both patients and staff. The Ward Atmosphere Scale (WAS) was developed to capture the ward atmosphere in different psychiatric settings and is a well-established instrument for this purpose. However, there is need for an update and revision of the WAS.
The aim of the present study was to test a Swedish version of the revised WAS in terms of its internal consistency, content and construct validity, and usability.
Data collection took place at four psychiatric wards and 31 patients and 34 staff completed the WAS, as well as content and construct validity questions.
Results showed that the WAS had acceptable to satisfactory internal consistency for all subscales, except for autonomy. Low correlation values between the WAS and the Good Milieu Index were obtained, against which construct validity was discussed. Results of the content validity and usability questionnaires indicate that the WAS is easy to understand and complete, but some of the items were difficult for the respondents to understand and some of the subjects were missing aspects of the physical ward environment.
The present study confirms that the Swedish version of the revised WAS can be useful for examining the ward atmosphere in psychiatric care. However, more studies are needed in order to further test the psychometric properties of the WAS and the results of the usability questionnaire may indicate a need to use supplementary instruments in order to capture the physical ward environment as well.