Demographics, Clinical Characteristics, and Treatment of Aggressive Patients Admitted to the Acute Behavioral Unit of a Community General Hospital: A Prospective Observational Study



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Objective: Aggressive patients are not uncommon in acute inpatient behavioral health units of general hospitals. Prior research identifies various predictors associated with aggressive inpatient behavior. This prospective observational study examines the demographic and clinical characteristics of aggressive inpatients and the routine medications these patients were receiving at discharge.

Method: Thirty-six adults diagnosed with a DSM-IV mental disorder who met 2 of 6 established inclusion criteria for high violence risk and a Clinical Global Impressions–Severity of Illness (CGI-S) scale score ≥ 4 were observed for a maximum of 28 days on the 23-bed case mix acute behavioral health unit of St Luke’s University Hospital, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, from January 2012 to May 2013. Primary outcome measures were the Modified Overt Aggression Scale (MOAS) and CGI-S; secondary measures were symptom outcome measures and demographic and clinical characteristics data. Analysis was conducted using repeated measures methodology.

Results: Younger males with a history of previous violence, psychiatric admissions, and symptoms of severe agitation were more at risk for aggressive behavior. Positive psychotic symptoms, a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, substance use, and comorbid personality disorders also increased risk. Significant improvements from baseline to last visit were observed for the CGI-S and MOAS (P < .001 for both), with a significant correlation between the MOAS and CGI-S at last visit (P < .001). Only the symptom of agitation was significantly correlated to MOAS scores at both baseline and last visit (P < .001).

Conclusion: Patients significantly improved over time in both severity of illness and level of aggression.

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2014;16(3):doi:10.4088/PCC.13m01589