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J Forensic Nurs. 2010 Spring;6(1):15-28. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-3938.2009.01061.x.

A narrative review of the effectiveness of aggression management training programs for psychiatric hospital staff.

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School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada.


Workplace violence, including patient-perpetrated violence in healthcare settings, is increasingly being recognized as preventable. Staff training has been identified as a necessary component of any initiative aimed at preventing or reducing incidents of aggression and violence in the workplace. This narrative review of the literature evaluates the effectiveness of staff training programs designed to prevent and manage violence and aggression in psychiatric hospitals. An exhaustive review of the literature was performed on all articles published in English between January 1, 1990 and April 1, 2007 that evaluate an aggression management training program. Twenty-nine studies met the inclusion criteria for a full review and were summarized using a qualitative narrative approach. Aggression management training has been proven effective in some areas, such as reducing the use of restraints and other coercive control devices, but more methodologically rigorous research is needed to firmly establish whether it is effective in reducing aggression and staff injuries.


The findings of this study suggest that relying too heavily on aggression management staff training will have limited effect on addressing the range of issues related to patient-perpetrated violence in psychiatric hospitals. Mental healthcare organizations must look beyond staff training if they are to achieve meaningful reductions in aggressive incidents and staff injuries.

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