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Appropriate treatment targets or products of a demanding environment? The relationship between aggression in a forensic psychiatric hospital with aggressive behaviour preceding admission and violent recidivism

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Effective treatment of aggressive behaviour and accurate release decision making are necessary components of adequate clinical practice in forensic psychiatric units. Unfortunately, methods to identify treatment targets and ameliorate aggressive behaviour have developed at a slower pace than risk assessment technologies. Recent progress on the identification of offence paralleling or functionally equivalent behaviour offers a framework for individually tailored treatment and idiographic release decision making, although empirical scrutiny of this approach is inadequate. This paper describes an examination of the relationship between aggressive behaviour prior to admission with aggression during inpatient psychiatric treatment, and reconviction for violent offending following discharge. Results showed a relationship between pre- and post-admission aggression but no relationship between aggression during inpatient psychiatric treatment with either pre-admission aggressive behaviour or violent recidivism. These findings indicate the importance of state psychological variables, specifically those states affected by symptoms of psychiatric illness, as well as environmental activators and inhibitors of violence that operate within the hospital. These require inclusion in an adequate functional analysis of aggressive behaviour for forensic psychiatric patients.
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Keywords: Aggression; functional analysis; offence parallel; psychiatry

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health (Forensicare), Australia,Peaks Academic and Research Unit, Rampton Hospital,Nottingham University, Nottingham, UK,Monash University, Melbourne, Clayton, Australia 2: Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health (Forensicare), Australia,Monash University, Melbourne, Clayton, Australia 3: Division of Psychiatry, The University of Edinburgh, UK 4: Peaks Academic and Research Unit, Rampton Hospital,Nottingham University, Nottingham, UK

Publication date: October 1, 2007

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