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Aggression on inpatient units: Clinical characteristics and consequences

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Laoise Renwick
  • Duncan Stewart
  • Michelle Richardson
  • Mary Lavelle
  • Karen James
  • Claire Hardy
  • Owen Price
  • Len Bowers
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/08/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Issue number4
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)308-318
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date19/02/16
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Aggression and violence are widespread in UK Mental Health Trusts, and are accompa-nied by negative psychological and physiological consequences for both staff and other patients. Patients who are younger, male, and have a history of substance use and psychosis diagnoses are more likely to display aggression; however, patient factors are not solely responsible for violence, and there are complex circumstances that lead to aggression. Indeed, patient–staff interactions lead to a sizeable portion of aggression and violence on inpatient units, thus they cannot be viewed without considering other forms of conflict and containment that occur before, during, and after the aggressive incident. For this reason, we examined sequences of aggressive incidents in conjunction with other conflict and containment methods used to explore whether there were particular profiles to aggressive incidents. In the present study, 522 adult psychiatric inpatients from 84 acute wards were recruited, and there were 1422 incidents of aggression (verbal, physical against objects, and physical). Cluster analysis revealed that aggressive incident sequences could be classified into four separate groups: solo aggression, aggression–rule breaking, aggression–medication, and aggression–containment. Contrary to our expectations, we did not find physical aggression dominant in the aggression–containment cluster, and while verbal aggression occurred primarily in solo aggression, physical aggression also occurred here. This indicates that the management of aggression is variable, and although some patient factors are linked with different clusters, these do not entirely explain the variation.