London, Jul 21 (PTI) A new scale has been developed at the University of Strathclyde to measure the psychological safety of patients and track the progress of psychological therapy, a statement from the institution said on Thursday.
This measure, named the Neuroperception of Psychological Safety Scale (NPSS), is the first of its kind, combining psychological, physiological, and social components.
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The scale has the potential to be used in a wider range of ways, such as tracking progress in psychological therapy or assessing whether learning improves a sense of psychological safety or improves hospital outcomes.
The researchers created a 29-item scale to assess how safe a person feels.
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It is divided into three subscales of Social Intuition, Compassion, and Physical Sensation.
Items were identified from responses to a questionnaire, in which participants were asked how strongly they agreed with 107 statements such as: ‘I understand’; ‘I felt compassion for others’ and ‘my heartbeat felt steady.’
Using statistical methods, researchers determined which statements were most associated with feeling safe, resulting in a 29-item scale, the university said in a release Thursday.
It can also be applied to psychological protection in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NPSS is informed by polyvagal theory (PVT), which provides a comprehensive explanation of psychological safety based on an evidence base from neurophysiology, psychology, and evolutionary theory.
The study was published in the journal Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice and Policy.
Research lead Dr Lisa Morton, who was in Strathclyde at the time of the research and is now a lecturer in applied psychology in the Department of Psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University, said the importance of feeling psychologically safe for health and wellbeing was increasingly recognised.
He said: “Feeling emotionally safe is essential to protect us from stress, anxiety and low mood, while promoting post-traumatic growth after adversity”.
“When we feel safe, we feel connected and engaged with others and our world and our autonomic nervous system can support processes of health, growth and recovery. When we feel threatened, our ‘fight-flight response’ is activated. We are anxious or angry and feel a rising energy toward self-defense. Our senses are heightened and we become alert, looking for signs of danger, real or imagined.
“This improved understanding of the importance of feeling safe has led to what I call a psychologically informed medicine, which aims to increase feelings of safety to improve mental health outcomes in people who need medical care. It compliments my health advice, for people like me, Those living dependent on medical intervention.
“We developed this standardized measure of psychological safety to enhance clinical work and research in this growing field.”
Dr Nicola Cogan, a senior lecturer in Strathclyde’s School of Psychological Sciences and Health, is also a co-author of the study. She said: “Clients often seek therapy because they are struggling to feel safe, plagued by anxiety, stress and low mood. They often want to feel safe again, or indeed yearn for the first time.
“Early adversity and repeated exposure to adverse life events can bias our perception of threat, which can significantly challenge our sense of safety and compromise our physical and mental well-being,” Kogan said.
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