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Simple tool may help evaluate risk for violence among patients with mental illness
Date:9/14/2012

Mental health professionals, who often are tasked with evaluating and managing the risk of violence by their patients, may benefit from a simple tool to more accurately make a risk assessment, according to a recent study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco.

The research, led by psychiatrist Alan Teo, MD, when he was a UCSF medical resident, examined how accurate psychiatrists were at evaluating risk of violence by acutely ill patients admitted to psychiatric units.

The first part of the study showed that inexperienced psychiatric residents performed no better than they would have by chance, whereas veteran psychiatrists were moderately successful in evaluating their patients' risk of violence.

However, the second part of the study showed that when researchers applied the information from the "Historical, Clinical, Risk Management󈞀Clinical" (HRC-20-C) scale a brief, structured risk assessment tool to the patients evaluated by residents, accuracy in identifying their potential for violence increased to a level nearly as high as the faculty psychiatrists', who had an average of 15 years more experience.

"Similar to a checklist a pilot might use before takeoff, the HRC-20-C has just five items that any trained mental health professional can use to assess their patients," Teo said. "To improve the safety for staff and patients in high-risk settings, it is critical to teach budding psychiatrists and other mental health professionals how to use a practical tool such as this one."

The study was published Aug. 31 in the journal Psychiatric Services.

The HCR-20-C was developed several years ago by researchers in Canada, where it is used in a number of settings such as prisons and hospitals. However, in the United States, structured tools such as the HCR-20-C are only beginning to be used in hospitals.

"This is the first study to compare the accuracy of risk assessme
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Contact: Abigail Mortimore
abigail.mortimore@ucsf.edu
415-502-6397
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert  

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