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Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 1995 Nov;17(6):451-3.

Patients' threats. Expanded definition of assault.

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  • 1Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, Boston, USA.


Most studies of patient assaults against staff operationally define violence as episodes of unwanted physical or sexual contact. This study empirically assessed a broader range of patient violence by including verbal and nonverbal threats in addition to sexual and physical assaults. Preliminary data from a statewide survey suggested that patient threats were frequent events. Data from a team of staff assaulted by patients in one hospital suggested that some verbal threats produced as much psychological distress for staff victims as did some physical assaults. These findings suggest the need to consider including threats in future studies of patient assaults.

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