Psychology, Department of



Mario J. Scalora

Date of this Version



Published in Psychological Services 2:2 (2005), pp. 133–141. Copyright © 2005 American Psychological Association. Used by permission.


Although there has been extensive research on psychopathy, it is unknown how, or whether, clinicians in public sector mental health settings consider the Psychopathy Checklist (PCL) for assessing violence risk. Mental health clinicians (N = 135) from 4 facilities were interviewed by using multiple methods for collecting data on decision making. Participants considered clinical information most often when assessing violence risk, indicating that these data were most readily available. Clinicians perceived formal testing results (e.g., PCL) to be least available and considered testing least often, especially if clinicians had less clinical experience. Participants did not explicitly report using the PCL but did implicitly rely on psychopathy factors when assessing violence risk. Clinicians in crisis settings reported less availability of historical data typically needed for the PCL. The data point to specifi c ways to improve the clinical practice of violence risk assessment in public mental health settings.