Public Policy Center, University of Nebraska



Mario J. Scalora

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Published by Elbogen, Tomkins, Pothuloori & Scalora in Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (2003) 31. Copyright 2003, Stanford University


Studies have identified risk factors that show a strong association with violent behavior in psychiatric populations. Yet, little research has been conducted on the documentation of violence risk information in actual clinical practice, despite the relevance of such documentation to risk assessment liability and to conducting effective risk management. In this study, the documentation of cues of risk for violence were examined in psychiatric settings. Patient charts (n = 283) in four psychiatric settings were reviewed for documentation of violence risk information
summarized in the MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study. The results revealed that particular patient and institutional variables influenced documentation practices. The presence of personality disorder, for example, predicted greater documentation of cues of violence risk, regardless of clinical setting. These findings have medicolegal implications for risk assessment liability and clinical implications for optimizing risk management in psychiatric practice.

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