An Analysis of the Correlates of Aggression in a Social Learning Program for Severely and Persistently Mentally Ill Inpatients

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This study aimed to examine the relationship between behavioral variables and aggression among severely and chronically mentally ill inpatients in a Social Learning Program (SLP) at a state psychiatric facility.


Using archival data over a 24-month period, a total of 23 severely and chronically mentally ill inpatients comprised the sample in this study. The predictor variables included length of current hospitalization; length of stay on SLP; basic activities of daily living (ADLs); instrumental ADLs; attendance in programming; participation in programming; and the number of minor, major, and intolerable infractions received. The criterion variable was number of aggressive episodes (e.g., hitting persons or objects).


Results of a standard multiple regression analysis indicated an overall model of two predictors (intolerable infractions and instrumental ADLs) that significantly predicted number of aggressive episodes. Findings suggested that SLP patients who have a tendency to be aggressive are able to adequately and concurrently complete daily hygiene needs and participate in scheduled treatment groups and activities.


Our findings provide valuable information regarding aggressive tendencies that can inform treatment planning. Specifically, our results suggested there are not necessarily obvious warning signs for aggression among severely and persistently mentally ill inpatients. Rather, other individualized patient factors may be at play in the expression of aggressive impulses, emphasizing the importance of adequate staff-to-patient ratios so that care planning and implementation can be appropriately individualized.

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