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J Clin Psychol Med Settings. 2010 Jun;17(2):87-97. doi: 10.1007/s10880-010-9190-7.

What variables are associated with an expressed wish to kill a doctor in community and injured patient samples?

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Health Psychology Associates, 1610 29th Avenue Place, Suite 200, Greeley, CO 80634, USA.


Working in a health care setting has been identified as a primary risk factor for violent assault, which is often perpetrated by patients. Patient dangerousness is a multidimensional phenomenon, which may include violent ideation, homicidal planning, a history of violent acts, or overt threatening behavior. Although the verbal report of thoughts of killing a doctor is only one of many risk factors for patient dangerousness, reports of homicidal ideation are widely regarded as being sufficient to warrant concern, and to indicate a need for further assessment of the patient. In this study, 2264 subjects (1329 healthy community subjects, 158 non-healthy community subjects, and 777 rehabilitation patients) were asked if they had a desire to kill a doctor that they had seen. Subjects responding positively to this item were compared to subjects responding negatively to the item using all available demographic variables and BHI 2 scales using chi-square or t-test. Significant variables (p<.01) were then utilized in a logistic regression to generate a model for this wish. Three variables significantly predicted this wish: the Doctor Dissatisfaction (p<.001) and Borderline (p<.001) scales of the BHI 2, and injury-related litigation status (p=.002). The presence of one of these variables, especially Doctor Dissatisfaction, should prompt a more thorough assessment of potential danger to healthcare workers.

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