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Research Article
Published Online: May 1997

A prospective study of violence by psychiatric patients after hospital discharge


OBJECTIVE: The study assessed the frequency of violence by patients two weeks after discharge from a psychiatric hospital and identified characteristics of patients with an increased risk of violence after discharge. METHODS: A structured form was used to interview patients aged 18 to 59 years in a private university psychiatric hospital. Patients provided self-reports of past violence, and violence while in the hospital was assessed by routine nurse ratings. Patients were telephoned two weeks after discharge to assess violence since discharge. RESULTS: Sixteen of 430 patients who were interviewed by telephone two weeks after discharge reported violence against persons since their discharge. Patients who were violent in the month before admission were nine times more likely to be violent in the two weeks after discharge, compared with patients who were not violent just before admission. Patients with a personality disorder were four times more likely than patients without a personality disorder to be violent after discharge. The targets of violence were often family members or other intimates and often the same persons attacked before hospitalization. CONCLUSIONS: Patients who were violent just before admission were more likely to be violent after discharge and to attack the same persons they had attacked in the past. Clinicians should routinely evaluate past violence and work with the patient and potential targets of violence to prevent future violence.

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Go to Psychiatric Services
Go to Psychiatric Services
Psychiatric Services
Pages: 678 - 681
PubMed: 9144823


Published in print: May 1997
Published online: 1 April 2006


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