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Title: Investigation into risk assessment and staff coping with patient perpetrated violence in inpatient forensic psychiatric settings
Author: Nunn, Katherine Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 7654 9390
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2018
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The present thesis was carried out in part fulfilment of the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Edinburgh. It is presented in portfolio format, comprising of two individual papers although a total thesis abstract provides an overview of the entire thesis. The first paper is a systematic review of existing empirical research. It explores the predictive validity of risk assessment tools for imminent (short-term) violence and aggression in forensic psychiatric settings. The second paper is an empirical study exploring how frontline nursing staff both predict and emotionally cope with experiencing violence and aggression in a high-security setting. Paper one was prepared for Aggression and Violent Behavior and paper two for The International Journal of Forensic Mental Health; so, follow their respective author guidelines. Mental health, and forensic mental health nurses have been identified as being at particular risk of experiencing patient perpetrated violence and aggression (PPVA). There is relatively little research investigating how nursing staff predict and cope with more immediate, imminent inpatient violence and aggression, specifically within secure (forensic) settings. Negative outcomes of PPVA are widely accepted and demonstrated within empirical literature, including increased anxiety and stress for staff, fractures to the therapeutic relationship between patients and staff, and difficulties with staff retention and absenteeism for the organization. Due to the extensive negative outcomes associated with PPVA, a wealth of research has focused on developing the area of violence risk assessment. Despite this, there remains limited understanding regarding the utility of existing risk assessment tools for predicting and assessing violence risk over brief time frames (i.e. days to weeks). Therefore, a systematic review was conducted to explore the predictive validity of violence risk assessment tools for imminent, short-term risk in inpatient forensic psychiatric settings. Findings demonstrated that multiple tools had decent predictive validity, however quality scores were impacted by small sample sizes. The Dynamic Appraisal of Situational Aggression- Inpatient Version was the most effective tool with the highest mean quality score. The main limitations were the small number of studies assessing some of the included tools and the level of ambiguity between studies regarding the definition of imminent, short-term violence. Developing a shared understanding of what constitutes short-term risk and improving the number and quality of studies on the largely neglected tools, should therefore be research priorities. How nurses actually recognize and predict inpatient violence and aggression in forensic psychiatric settings, and how they emotionally cope with the aftermath, are poorly explored and understood processes. A social constructivist grounded theory approach was used to analyze the transcripts from 12 interviews with frontline nursing staff from an inpatient high-security setting. A model was constructed integrating nurses' beliefs and assumptions about subtypes of violence, their efforts to use observation skills in order to aid risk prediction, and their resultant emotional experiences following PPVA. Nurses emotional coping seemed to be affected by several factors relating to the culture of the organization and the accessibility of support. Seemingly, knowing the patient helped nurses to better identify underlying needs leading to violent behavior. This understanding helped nurses to implement targeted, needs-led interventions to address these unmet needs, and so reduce recurrent and cyclical violence. Recommendations are made to build upon, and utilize nursing skills in risk prediction and management, and to help better support the emotional impact of experiencing PPVA within forensic psychiatric settings.
Supervisor: Quayle, Ethel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: workplace violence and aggression ; mental health nurses ; systematic review ; predictive risk assessment tools ; psychiatric inpatients