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Psychiatr Serv. 1995 Feb;46(2):164-8.

Effect of nonviolent self-defense training on male psychiatric staff members' aggression and fear.

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  • 1Fielding Institute, Santa Barbara, California 93105, USA.



Male staff members at two state psychiatric hospitals were trained in nonviolent self-defense skills for dealing with potentially assaultive patients to determine whether such training could reduce the number of assaults and episodes of patient restraint.


Three groups of male staff received didactic training, didactic and physical skills training, or no training in the nonviolent self-defense skills of protective profile, repel, and push-off, as well as in evasive movement. Effects of the training were evaluated using the Buss-Durkee Hostility-Guilt Inventory; a questionnaire about clinical experience and sports training; judges' evaluations of physical skill, aggression, and fear; a self-report questionnaire about the value of nonaggressive responses and felt fear and aggression; and a follow-up questionnaire about posttraining assaults.


Behaviorally expressed fear and aggression were significantly reduced among staff who received both didactic and physical skills training. The other two groups showed no significant changes in this area. During the two weeks after training, subjects trained in physical and didactic skills were involved in 23 percent fewer assaults than those who received only didactic training and 20 percent fewer assaults than those who received no training. The development of increased skill in nonviolent physical techniques of self-defense was strongly correlated with an increase in the value placed on the use of the skills and on nonviolent outcomes.

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