Doctors in New York have developed a forumula to help them predict which patients admitted to psychiatric wards will be violent.
In an article in the April issue of Hospital and Community Psychiatry, a team of five researchers described the technique that enabled them to make correct predictions of violent behavior for about 66 percent of 79 male schizophrenia patients admitted to the Manhattan Psychiatric Center.The authors, who are affiliated with the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research in Orangeburg, N.Y., first surveyed the personal profiles of another group of men and correlated traits with violent behavior, defined as pushing, hitting, slapping, choking, scratching or kicking staff members or other patients.
The researchers then used four risk factors uncovered in that group to develop the predictive formula applied to the 79 men in the second group. The factors used in the formula were: abnormalities in brain function, history of violent crime or violent suicide attempts, and deviant family environment during childhood.
History of drug and alcohol use, head injuries, cruelty to animals, and bed-wetting were not predictive because they were equally common in assaultive and non-assaultive patients.
The researchers said the formula probably would not be useful for predicting violence in other types of psychiatric patients such as those with severe depression or drug abuse problems.