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Aggression and counteraggression during child psychiatric hospitalization.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, Massachusetts.


The article reports on a 1-year descriptive study of aggressive incidents and staff counteraggressive strategies within a child psychiatry inpatient unit. Ninety-nine child/adolescent patients produced a total of 887 reportable aggressive incidents during the 12-month study period. Seclusion, activity restriction, physical restraint, and administration of p.r.n. medication were studied in relation to patient aggression. Results of the study confirm the hypotheses that (1) much patient aggression within defined clinical contexts conforms to patterns of prediction directly related to person and environmental variables, and (2) the primary value of counteraggression strategies such as seclusion and restraint resides in the acute management of aggressive children and not in long-term therapeutic functions. The article offers some recommendations for new research in this general area as well as suggestions for clinical applications of these methods.

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