A study into the severity of forensic and civil inpatient aggression

Authors Anneloes Huitema, Nienke Verstegen, Vivienne de Vogel
Published in Journal of Interpersonal Violence
Publication date 7 December 2018
Research groups Working with Mandated Clients
Type Article


Aggressive incidents occur frequently in health care facilities, such as psychiatric care and forensic psychiatric hospitals. Previous research suggests that civil psychiatric inpatients may display more aggression than forensic inpatients. However, there is a lack of research comparing these groups on the incident severity, even though both frequency and severity of aggression influence the impact on staff members. The purpose of this study is to compare the frequency and severity of inpatient aggression caused by forensic and civil psychiatric inpatients in the same Dutch forensic psychiatric hospital. Data on aggressive incidents occurring between January 1, 2014, and December 31, 2017, were gathered from hospital files and analyzed using the Modified Overt Aggression Scale, including sexual aggression (MOAS+). Multilevel random intercept models were used to analyze differences between forensic and civil psychiatric patients in severity of aggressive incidents. In all, 3,603 aggressive incidents were recorded, caused by 344 different patients. Civil psychiatric patients caused more aggressive incidents than forensic patients and female patients caused more inpatient aggression compared with male patients. Female forensic patients were found to cause the most severe incidents, followed by female civil psychiatric patients. Male forensic patients caused the least severe incidents. The findings have important clinical implications, such as corroborating the need for an intensive treatment program for aggressive and disruptive civil psychiatric patients, as well as emphasizing the importance of gender-responsive treatment

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Language English
Published in Journal of Interpersonal Violence
Key words inpatient aggression, severity, forensic patients, civil commitment, gender
Page range 1-19