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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 51 (2009) 6, 355 - 364

New research

Assessing aggression in patients of the mental health crisis service

E.J.M. Penterman, H.L.I. Nijman

background Care workers of the outreach psychiatric crisis team are frequently confronted with aggressive patients. To prevent dangerous situations from developing it could be advantageous to have in place a method of risk assessment that is based on information about patients before they are actually contacted by the crisis team.
aim To test the predictive validity of an instrument specifically designed to assess the risks of aggression from severely disturbed psychiatric patients before they are seen by the crisis team.
methods Over a period of two years and prior to any outreach contact with patients in crisis situations a Checklist of Risks to the Crisis team (crc) was completed. Then, following outreach contact with the patient any perceived aggression was recorded by means of the Staff Observation Aggression Scale-Revised (soas-r).
results Aggressive behaviour by patients was observed during 51 of 499 crisis contacts with members of the outreach crisis team. On the basis of three factors in the CRC, namely the clinical assessment on a visual-analogue scale, an estimate of the number of aggressive persons in the vicinity of the crisis patient concerned and the reporting of crises by the patient himself, it was possible to predict outwardly directed aggression with a sensitivity of 74% and a specificity of 84%.
conclusions Although the findings still need to be reproduced, an instrument such as the crc could be very useful to members of the crisis service.


keywords aggressive behaviour, crisis service, risk assessment