Health Assessing aggression risk in mental health patients

Assessing aggression risk in mental health patients

A new tool could help assess the risk that patients could be aggressive towards mental health workers – and may help to reduce assaults.

According to 2014 figures, more than one in three Victorian mental health workers were physically assaulted and four out of five nurses were attacked verbally, physically or sexually within the previous 12 months. But it’s difficult for staff to predict imminent violence.

In 2006 Professors James Ogloff and Michael Daffern, of Swinburne University of Technology’s Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science led a study to identify and test risk factors for patient aggression.

As a result, they developed a seven-item appraisal tool.

Trials in Victoria showed that the Dynamic Appraisal of Situational Aggression (DASA), which takes nurses only a few minutes to complete, had greater reliability and predictive accuracy than the previous ad hoc methods.

In the decade since its development, DASA has been adopted by mental health units from New Zealand to the US, Singapore, Hong Kong and Canada.

“That level of endorsement has created a lot of interest,” says Daffern.

He and Ogloff are now working on an online application that will enable staff to use DASA electronically and link the risk assessment to preventative strategies.

The application will include the ability to track which interventions are most effective in preventing violence on a patient-by-patient basis.

There’s more about the Swinburne study here. [Story credit: Swinburne newsroom]

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