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Incidence, Severity and Characteristics of Patients’ Aggression in Acute Psychiatric Wards: Data from a Slovenian National Survey



To evaluate the incidence, severity and characteristics of aggressive behaviour in patients hospitalized in acute psychiatric wards, as well as the association between patient characteristics and the incidence of recurrent aggressive behaviour.


A multicentre prospective study included all twelve acute wards in Slovenian psychiatric hospitals with a total capacity of 232 beds. Over five consecutive months, data on the number of treatment episodes involving aggressive behaviour and the number of aggressive incidents, their severity and characteristics were obtained using the Staff Observation Aggression Scale-Revised (SOAS-R). Patient- and event-based incident rates of verbal and physical aggression were calculated. The association between patient characteristics and recurrent aggressive behaviour was analysed. Patient characteristics data were extracted from hospital databases.


3,190 treatment episodes were included during a 5-month period. Aggressive behaviour was observed in 13.4% of treatment episodes, and 922 aggressive incidents were recorded, which resulted in 3.98 incidents per 100 occupied bed days and 9.48 incidents per bed per year. 74.1% of incidents were severe, and more than half of incidents included physical aggression. 75.5% of incidents were directed against medical staff. 5.9% of treatment episodes were involved in multiple aggressive incidents. Compared to patients with single incidents, patients with recurrent aggression had a less frequent main diagnosis of substance use disorders and a longer duration of hospitalization.


Monitoring the frequency and characteristics of aggressive behaviour allows comparisons with other studies and, more importantly, it is necessary for planning and assessing the effectiveness of preventative aggression management strategies.

Calendario de la edición:
4 veces al año
Temas de la revista:
Medicine, Clinical Medicine, Hygiene and Environmental Medicine