What Variables Are Associated With an Expressed Wish to Kill a Doctor in Community and Injured Patient Samples?

  • Daniel Bruns
  • David A. Fishbain
  • John Mark Disorbio
  • John E. Lewis


Working in a health care setting has been identified as a primary risk factor for violent assault, which is often perpetrated by patients. Patient dangerousness is a multidimensional phenomenon, which may include violent ideation, homicidal planning, a history of violent acts, or overt threatening behavior. Although the verbal report of thoughts of killing a doctor is only one of many risk factors for patient dangerousness, reports of homicidal ideation are widely regarded as being sufficient to warrant concern, and to indicate a need for further assessment of the patient. In this study, 2264 subjects (1329 healthy community subjects, 158 non-healthy community subjects, and 777 rehabilitation patients) were asked if they had a desire to kill a doctor that they had seen. Subjects responding positively to this item were compared to subjects responding negatively to the item using all available demographic variables and BHI 2 scales using chi-square or t-test. Significant variables (p < .01) were then utilized in a logistic regression to generate a model for this wish. Three variables significantly predicted this wish: the Doctor Dissatisfaction (p < .001) and Borderline (p < .001) scales of the BHI 2, and injury-related litigation status (p = .002). The presence of one of these variables, especially Doctor Dissatisfaction, should prompt a more thorough assessment of potential danger to healthcare workers.


Violence Homicide Risk factors Physicians Healthcare workers Hostile wish to kill physicians Predictors Battery for Health Improvement 2 (BHI 2) Doctor Dissatisfaction scale Borderline Litigation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Bruns
    • 1
  • David A. Fishbain
    • 2
  • John Mark Disorbio
    • 3
  • John E. Lewis
    • 4
  1. 1.Health Psychology AssociatesGreeleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryMiller School of Medicine, University of MiamiMiamiUSA
  3. 3.Integrated TherapiesLakewoodUSA
  4. 4.University of Miami, Miller School of MedicineMiamiUSA

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