Background: Previous research has predominately focused on patients with mental illness as the instigators, rather than the victims, of violence and criminal activity. However, patients with schizophrenia appear to experience a higher degree of victimization compared to general community samples. We aimed to establish the 1-month prevalence of violent and non-violent victimization in a sample of patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders and to investigate the determinants of victimization.
Method: Reports of violent and non-violent victimization were recorded in 348 patients in Dandenong, an outer metropolitan suburb of Melbourne, Australia along with the subjective perception of patients as to their degree of protection from being robbed or attacked. Patients reporting victimization were compared with those who did not, across a range of clinical and psychosocial variables.
Results: 11.2% of the sample reported being the victim of non-violent crime and 4.3% the victim of violent crime in the 1-month period. 23.2% reported dissatisfaction with their protection against being attacked or robbed. The major determinant of victimization was the lack of any meaningful daily activity.
Conclusions: Patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders are at increased risk of victimization, both of the violent and non-violent type. Further research is required to understand the pathways through which victimization occurs and to understand whether psychosocial interventions can reduce victimization in this patient population.