High Rates of Violence for Mentally Ill Adults

(HealthDay News) — Adults with mental illnesses experience violence in the community at high rates, according to a study published online February 13 in the American Journal of Public Health.

Sarah L. Desmarais, PhD, from the North Carolina State University in Raleigh, and colleagues examined the prevalence and nature of community violence perpetration and victimization in adults with mental illness. Baseline data from five studies involving 4,480 adults with mental illnesses from across the United States (1992–2007) were pooled. All participants provided responses to the MacArthur Community Violence Screening Instrument.

The researchers found that 23.9% of participants reported violence, with the prevalence of perpetration ranging from 11.0 to 43.4% across studies. The prevalence of victimization varied from 17.0–56.6% across studies, and was higher overall (30.9%). Most violence (63.5%) was perpetrated in residential settings. About one in 10 overall and one in three of those involved in violent incidents experienced violence-related physical injury. Strong correlations were observed for perpetration and victimization.

“Results provided further evidence that adults with mental illnesses experienced violent outcomes at high rates, and that they were more likely to be victims than perpetrators of community violence,” the authors write. “There is a critical need for public health interventions designed to reduce violence in this vulnerable population.”

The study was partially funded by Eli Lilly.

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