A descriptive survey study of violence management and priorities among psychiatric staff in mental health services, across seventeen european countries

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Background: In mental health services what is commonplace across international frontiers is that to prevent aggressive patients from harming themselves, other patients or staff, coercive measures and foremost, violence management strategies are required. There is no agreement, recommendations or direction from the EU on which measures of coercion should be practiced across EU countries, and there is no overall one best practice approach. Methods: The project was conceived through an expert group, the European Violence in Psychiatry Research Group (EViPRG). The study aimed to incorporate an EU and multidisciplinary response in the determination of violence management practices and related research and education priorities across 17 European countries. From the EVIPRG members, one member from each country agreed to act as the national project coordinator for their country. Given the international spread of respondents, an eDelphi survey approach was selected for the study design and data collection. A survey instrument was developed, agreed and validated through members of EVIPRG. Results: The results included a total of 2809 respondents from 17 countries with 999 respondents who self-selected for round 2 eDelphi. The majority of respondents worked in acute psychiatry, 54% (n = 1511); outpatient departments, 10.5% (n = 295); and Forensic, 9.3% (n = 262). Other work areas of respondents include Rehabilitation, Primary Care and Emergency. It is of concern that 19.5% of respondents had not received training on violence management. The most commonly used interventions in the management of violent patients were physical restraint, seclusion and medications. The top priorities for education and research included: preventing violence; the influence of environment and staff on levels of violence; best practice in managing violence; risk assessment and the aetiology and triggers for violence and aggression. Conclusion: In many European countries there is an alarming lack of clarity on matters of procedure and policy pertaining to violence management in mental health services. Violence management practices in Europe appear to be fragmented with no identified ideological position or collaborative education and research. In Europe, language differences are a reality and may have contributed to insular thinking, however, it must not be seen as a barrier to sharing best practice.




Cowman, S., Björkdahl, A., Clarke, E., Gethin, G., & Maguire, J. (2017). A descriptive survey study of violence management and priorities among psychiatric staff in mental health services, across seventeen european countries. BMC Health Services Research, 17(1), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-017-1988-7

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