This study examined differences in disposition decisions among mental health professionals using a standardized Web-based simulation.
Using a Web-based simulation that described, across users, the same complex psychiatric patient, credentialed clinicians in a psychiatry department conducted a violence risk assessment and selected a level of follow-up care.
Of 410 clinicians who completed the simulation, 60% of psychiatrists were more likely than other types of clinicians to select higher levels of care (inpatient or emergency services) for the standardized virtual patient (odds ratio=2.67, 95% confidence interval=1.67–4.25), even after adjustment for other factors. Virtual actions taken, such as contracting with the patient for safety and discussing hospitalization, elucidated these training differences.
Training backgrounds were important determinants of clinicians’ actions and the dispositions they recommended for a psychiatric patient at high risk of self-harm and harm to others in the educational setting and may suggest the need for further training to standardize and optimize care.