Screening for risk of violence using service users' self-perceptions: A prospective study from an acute mental health unit


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Service users’ self-perception of risk has rarely been emphasized in violence risk assessments. A recent review pointed to the importance of a multidisciplinary approach, because different perspectives may provide a deeper and improved understanding of risk assessment. The aim of this study was to investigate service users’ perceptions of their own risk of committing violence, using a self-report risk scale, to determine the feasibility and efficacy of this potential violence risk marker during acute mental health hospitalization. All service users admitted to a psychiatric emergency hospital in Norway during one calendar year were included (N = 512). Nearly 80% self-reported no risk or low risk; only seven (1.4%) reported moderate risk or high risk. Service users who reported moderate risk, high risk, don't know, or won't answer were more likely to be violent (OR = 4.65, 95% CI = 2.79–7.74) compared with those who reported no risk or low risk. There was a significant gender interaction with higher OR for women on both univariate and multivariate analyses. Although the OR was higher for women, women's violence rate (11.0%) was almost half that of men (21.8%). For women, sensitivity and specificity were 0.55 and 0.88, respectively; corresponding values for men were 0.40 and 0.80. Inclusion of self-perception of violence risk is the first step towards service users’ collaborative involvement in violence prediction; these results indicate that self-perception can contribute to violence risk assessments in acute mental health settings. Findings also indicate that there are gender differences in these assessments.




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