Reducing Institutional Violence: Environmental Risk Factors in Psychiatric Hospitals

Sara Ellis : Psychology, Global Poverty and Practice minor

Mentor: Jennifer Skeem, Social Welfare

All too often, patients in psychiatric hospitals are involved in violent incidents with other patients and hospital staff. These incidents incur significant economic, social and human costs. Although most research has focused on identifying patient characteristics that contribute to violence (e.g., young age, past violence), there is growing recognition that rates of violence can vary tremendously based on the environment. Sara will be using an instrument, PRISM (“Promoting Risk Intervention by Situational Management”), to examine how environmental factors contribute to variation in rates of institutional violence across units at Napa State Hospital. Through observations of physical surroundings, interviews with patients and staff, and discussion with management personnel, her findings aim to illuminate factors that can be targeted by administrators in violence reduction and prevention efforts.