Dynamic Risk Factors for Violence in People With Major Mental Disorders

Major mental disorders are associated with increased rates of violence, which is a primary reason for involuntary psychiatric or community treatment for individuals with mental disorders. Within psychiatric inpatient units, violence compromises the safety of hospital staff and other patients, adversely impacts staff morale, jeopardizes the therapeutic setting, and presents a risk of physical injury. In order to prevent violence, it is important to identify the factors that can provoke violent outbursts. Certain known risk factors for violence do not change during a person’s life, such as their age at a first violent incident or early childhood maladjustment. However, there are also dynamic risk factors – such as emotional distress, treatment compliance, and symptoms of psychosis – that can and do vary over time. Catherine Wilson is studying a group of psychiatric inpatients admitted for treatment of a major mental disorder. Using specialized methods, she will measure these dynamic risk factors over time, from admission to discharge. The findings of Catherine’s study will increase our theoretical understanding of violence and assist the development of treatment and management programs designed to prevent violence by psychiatric inpatients.