Trajectories and predictive characteristics of treatment-relevant violence risk factors among persons with psychiatric illnesses

Statistics Canada figures show more than a quarter of a million violent crimes in Canada reported in 2003, with many more violent crimes unreported. Each violent crime leaves a victim potentially traumatized and physically injured, with resulting high costs to the health system. One target group for whom violence often is studied is people with psychiatric illnesses. Study results have shown an overrepresentation of violence among certain groups of people with psychiatric illnesses, and Canadian law requires that violence risk is assessed among people considered for release from psychiatric, forensic, and correctional agencies. Most of the resulting research, however, has focused on predicting violence among persons with mental illness, rather than on ways to reduce or prevent violent behavior. Dr. Kevin Douglas’ research focuses on treatment-relevant violence risk factors. His research objective is to identify those risk factors most likely to be responsive to treatment, with the goal of informing violence-reduction efforts. Dr. Douglas is following a group of people with mental illnesses released from forensic psychiatric and correctional facilities in British Columbia. They will be administered measures of promising treatment-relevant risk factors (such as poor social support, substance use, and anger) on multiple occasions in the community. From the results of this work, Dr. Douglas will discern which risk factors are most likely both to change and to predict violence. Results from his research may reveal promising treatment targets to reduce violence among this group of people.