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Objective: Psychological safety is increasingly recognised as central to mental health, wellbeing and post-traumatic growth. To date, there is no psychometrically supported measure of psychological safety combining psychological, physiological and social components. The current research aimed to develop and establish the neuroception of psychological safety scale (NPSS), informed by Polyvagal Theory. Method: The study comprised of three stages: (1) item generation, (2) item reduction, and (3) assessment of factor structure and internal consistency. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis was conducted from two samples who completed a survey online (exploratory n = 342, confirmatory n = 455). Results: Initially, 107 items were generated. Item reduction and exploratory factor analysis resulted in a 29-item NPSS with subscales of compassion, social engagement and body sensations. The NPSS was found to have a consistent factor structure and internal consistency. Conclusion: The NPSS is a novel measure of psychological safety which can be used across a range of health and social care settings. This research provides a platform for further work to support and enhance understandings of the science of safety through the measurement of psychological, relational and physiological components of safety. The NPSS will help shape new approaches to evaluating trauma treatments, relational issues and mental health concerns. Research to establish the convergent, discriminant and concurrent validity of the NPSS and to explore its use with diverse community and clinical populations is underway.
Background: Psychological safety is increasingly recognised as central to mental health and wellbeing. The Polyvagal Theory offers a ‘Science of Safety’ which can help inform clinical practice to promote wellbeing, resilience and post-traumatic growth, whilst mitigating trauma. To date, there is no standardised measure of psychological safety comprising psychological, physiological and social components. The current study aims to develop such a self-report measure. Methods: The study comprised three stages: First, seven key stakeholders with expertise in trauma, applied psychology and The Polyvagal Theory generated 107 items using a variation of the Delphi method. The second stage aimed to reduce the number of items and assess the underlying factor structure. Participants (n =342) completed the 107 item measure which was disseminated via an anonymised, online Qualtrics survey. Exploratory factor analysis guided by Cronbach’s alpha and omega coefficients resulted in a reduced scale with 29 items of psychological safety. Ethical approval was granted by the University of Strathclyde ethics committee. Current stage of work: Data collection began for the final phase in February 2021 and should be completed by June 2021. The 29 item ‘safety measure’ has been disseminated via an online Qualtrics survey with five other measures for the purpose of comprehensive psychometric validation via tests of dimensionality, reliability, known groups, criterion, convergent, predictive and discriminant validity. Expected results: The findings will result in a psychometrically validated measure of psychological safety. Discussion: The development of a holistic, standardised measure of psychological safety will benefit both academic and clinical work.