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Article   |    
Psychiatrists' Accuracy in Predicting Violent Behavior on an Inpatient Unit
Jeffrey S. Janofsky; Sheila Spears; David N. Neubauer
Psychiatric Services 1988; doi:
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This study could not have been completed without the participation of the psychiatric interns and the psychiatric nursing staff of the Francis Scott Key Medical Center.

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Hospital, Adolf Meyer Building 144, 600 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21205

Francis Scott Key Medical Center in Baltimore

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Francis Scott Key Medical Center

American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

Courts and legislators continue to assume psychiatrists are able to predict dangerousness, but research has shown they have no special ability to do so. In this study, two psychiatrists examined 47 new inpatient admissions to a short-term psychiatric treatment unit and predicted whether they would commit battery or demonstrate threatening or suicidal behavior within seven days. The psychiatrists were not accurate in predicting battery or suicidal behavior but had some efficacy in predicting threatening behaviors. The presence of assaultive or threatening behavior on admission, hallucinations on mental status examination, and a discharge diagnosis of mania were useful for predicting battery. A discharge diagnosis of mania was useful for predicting threatening behavior. The use of likelihood ratios to conceptualize predictive data is described.

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