Original Paper

Psychiatric Quarterly

, Volume 78, Issue 2, pp 83-90

Psychiatric Patient Assault and Staff Victim Gender: Fifteen-year Analysis of the Assaulted Staff Action Program (ASAP)

  • Raymond B. FlanneryJrAffiliated withMassachusetts Department of Mental HealthHarvard Medical SchoolDepartment of Psychology/6B, Worcester State Hospital Email author 
  • , Louise MarksAffiliated withMassachusetts Department of Mental Health
  • , Lisa LaudaniAffiliated withHarvard Medical SchoolVinfen Corporation
  • , Andrew P. WalkerAffiliated withMassachusetts Department of Mental Health

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Extensive, largely cross-sectional research has documented the continued occurrence of patient assaults on male and female staff. Different studies report either male or female staff to be at highest risk. Studies of same/different gender assaults which might more fully answer this question have been few. In these latter studies both male and female staff were at high risk for same gender assaults. In community settings males were at risk from same gender assaults but females were at risk from assaults by both patient genders. The present 15-year longitudinal retrospective study examined same/different gender assaults over time. Since the health care system under study experienced several major policy changes during these years, data were also examined at 5-year intervals to assess the stability of findings across time. Male and female staff were at increased risk from same gender assaults over time in both inpatient and community settings. The findings and their implications are discussed. In addition, a cost-effective, comprehensive risk management strategy for containing assaults is outlined.


Assaults Gender Psychiatric Patient Risk Management Staff Victim