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A clinical database for measuring outcomes in a low-secure service: a feasibility study

Rachel Edworthy (Audit and Research Assistant, based at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK)
Najat Khalifa (Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, based at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK)

The Journal of Forensic Practice

ISSN: 2050-8794

Article publication date: 4 February 2014




The purpose of this paper is to present the arguments for sustaining a clinical database, assess its feasibility in a low-secure service, examine the data that can be captured and discuss what this means for practice implications and service development. The paper aims to demonstrate how a clinical database can provide information on three key areas: what patients are like before admission, what is done with them whilst they are in hospital and what happens to them when they are discharged. The paper also aims to examine the practical, legal and ethical implications of building such a database.


This is conducted in the form of a feasibility study charting the development and implementation of an inpatient clinical database for a low-secure inpatient service.


The feasibility of creating and maintaining a clinical database in a low-secure service has been assessed and the paper has found that they are an invaluable source of data that all mental health services should strive to develop. They will enable services to track their own outcome measures and tailor their service and interventions according to the needs of service users. However, ethical and legal issues surrounding building clinical databases are complex and require careful consideration.

Research limitations/implications

This is a small-scale study that captured the experience of one service. Ideally this research should be expanded with nationwide clinical database development.

Practical implications

This paper includes implications for the implementation of a clinical database, the resources needed for the running of this and the development of standardised outcome measures for mental health services.


This is potentially an innovative way of developing a clinical database for a low-secure unit and some of the first research into the feasibility of a database for this population. Its practical application is relatively new and potentially innovative in how it is applied.



Edworthy, R. and Khalifa, N. (2014), "A clinical database for measuring outcomes in a low-secure service: a feasibility study", The Journal of Forensic Practice, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 58-67.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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