Objective: A small subgroup of patients is primarily responsible for the large number of aggressive and violent incidents in psychiatric inpatient units. This study aims to identify the developmental, social and interpersonal histories of repeatedly aggressive patients in order to better understand their treatment needs.
Methods: A total of 1269 consecutive inpatients were studied over 18 months, identifying 64 who were repeatedly aggressive; 128 non-aggressive patients were randomly matched to the aggressive patients by age, sex and diagnosis. Developmental, social, interpersonal and familial histories were obtained from a chart review.
Results: Repeatedly aggressive patients were significantly more likely to have had a history of aggression, physical and sexual abuse, and experienced interpersonal problems and parental divorce.
Conclusions: Aggressive patients do not just need short-term skills training, but interventions that target interpersonal and personality disorder deficits associated with their developmental histories.