© 2006

Violence in Mental Health Settings

Causes, Consequences, Management

  • Dirk Richter
  • Richard Whittington

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxiii
  2. Measurement and Epidemiology

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 10-10
    2. Henk Nijman, Stâl Bjørkly, Tom Palmstierna, Roger Almvik
      Pages 11-23
  3. The Psychology and Sociology of the Violent Incident

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 26-26
    2. Christoph Abderhalden, Sabine Hahn, Yvonne D. B. Bonner, Gian Maria Galeazzi
      Pages 69-92
  4. Prediction and Management

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 94-94
    2. Tilman Steinert
      Pages 111-123
    3. Laurette E. Goedhard, Joost J. Stolker, Eibert R. Heerdink, Henk L. I. Nijman, Berend Olivier, Toine C. G. Egberts
      Pages 173-190
  5. Improving Staff Skills in Handling Management

  6. The Organizational Context

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 230-230
    2. Joy A. Duxbury, Anna Björkdahl, Sheena Johnson
      Pages 273-291

About this book


Despite great improvement in service delivery, patient violence remains a major problem at mental health facilities. Focusing equally on causes, management, and prevention, this groundbreaking book represents the state of knowledge on this crucial topic.

Violence in Mental Health Settings brings together salient theories, valuable data, and real-world interventions in one accessible volume. The contributors include psychiatrists, nurses, researchers, and academics (many affiliated with the European Violence in Psychiatry Research Group), offering an integrative context for understanding patient aggression and identifying areas where research is lacking. Chapters review the latest theories of violence, proven prevention strategies, and examples of positive organizational change. Practical highlights include:

-Assessing and measuring risk: self- versus other-reporting scales

-How the ward environment can contribute to violence—or its prevention

-Best practice guidelines for verbal, physical, and pharmaceutical interventions

-Training issues and course development in violence management

-Professional coping after patient attacks

-Developing a non-violent culture at the institutional level

Throughout, the material is illustrated liberally with graphs and clinical case examples, and coverage bridges the patient-rights and zero-tolerance ends of the spectrum.

Therapists, nurses, social workers, and counselors in hospitals and other inpatient and community facilities will find Violence in Mental Health Settings a source of vital insights and ideas for future policy. Regardless of one’s setting or specialty, the authors share a critical aim with their readers: a safer and more humane experience.


Aggression Focusing Management Training intervention psychiatry psychology

Editors and affiliations

  • Dirk Richter
    • 1
  • Richard Whittington
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of SociologyWestphalian Hospital Münster and University of MünsterMünsterGermany
  2. 2.School of Health SciencesUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK

About the editors

Richard Whittington, PhD, is a senior lecturer in the School of Health Sciences, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom. He is a psychologist and researcher with a background as a mental health nurse in intensive care and general acute psychiatric settings. He has published widely on the psychological and social causes and effects of aggression in mental health care. Current projects include systematic reviews of risk assessment and interventions in forensic mental health funded by the UK NHS R&D programme.

Dirk Richter, PhD, nurse (with working experience in mental health) and sociologist, currently researcher and quality manager at Westphalian Hospital in Muenster, Germany, and associate professor ('Privatdozent') at the Institute of Sociology, University of Muenster. In German, Dirk Richter has authored and edited three books on violence in health care. He has co-authored a widely spread booklet on conflict management in psychiatric settings and has written several research papers and book chapters on the topic. Dirk Richter has also published in fields such as social psychiatry, evaluation and quality management, medical philosophy, nursing science, social theory and nationalism research. His last book on the sociology of mental disorders in the era of life sciences has been published in 2003(in German).

Bibliographic information


From the reviews:

"Violence in Mental Health Settings, is aimed at educating the reader in research into violence in mental health settings and does so very well. … It includes practical recommendations and will be useful to anyone working in an impatient setting. … If you read … you will get a good overall view of where to start in dealing with violence and managing future risk of violence." (Dr. Sarah Gladden, The Psychologist, October, 2007)

"This edited text brings together many well-known authors, giving a truly international flavour to the subject matter. … It gives the reader a wealth of evidence in relation to theories, interventions and data on violence in mental heath settings. The depth and detail of this text is a strength … . Individual chapters are extremely informative … . editors make the claim that this text is aimed at therapists, nurses, social workers and counsellors. … should be read by those looking to develop future policy." (Tracey Cassidy, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 2007)