Assessing Violence Risk Among Discharged Psychiatric Patients: Toward an Ecological Approach

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Abstract

This paper draws upon data from the Pittsburgh site of the MacArthur Foundation's Risk Assessment Study, a large-scale study of violence risk among persons discharged from psychiatric hospitals, to examine the effect of the neighborhood context on risk of violence. This paper has two purposes: (1) to assess the extent to which the inclusion of neighborhood characteristics enhances violence prediction models—models that traditionally only include individual-level characteristics; and (2) to assess the consistency of individual level risk factors across different neighborhood contexts. Results indicate that neighborhood poverty has an impact over and above the effects of individual characteristics in identifying cases with violence. These findings support efforts to include neighborhood context in the assessment and management of violence risk among discharged psychiatric patients.

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