Screening for Risk Factors Associated With Violence in Pediatric Patients Presenting to a Psychiatric Emergency Department

J Psychiatr Pract. 2007 Jul;13(4):246-52. doi: 10.1097/01.pra.0000281485.96698.6d.


Objective: This exploratory study was a chart review that examined whether risk factors for violence were adequately reported in 425 pediatric patients assessed by psychiatry residents in a psychiatric emergency room.

Results: Overall, psychiatric residents rarely documented asking about important risk factors such as gun access, gang affiliation, history of police contact, and domestic violence; however, high rates of positive endorsement were found when queries concerning risk factors were documented in the chart. Despite being the most common method of homicide/suicide in youth, gun access was assessed by residents in only 3% of patients. Domestic violence was endorsed as positive 100% of the time when it was documented. Pediatric patients presenting with violence were more likely to be screened for past violence than those with suicide and other complaints. Males were more likely to have a history of prior violence.

Conclusions: Most psychiatric residents failed to document thorough risk assessments for violence in pediatric patients in an emergency setting. This has important medical-legal and treatment planning implications.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Documentation / statistics & numerical data
  • Domestic Violence / prevention & control
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Emergency Services, Psychiatric*
  • Female
  • Firearms / statistics & numerical data
  • Homicide / prevention & control
  • Homicide / psychology
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Juvenile Delinquency / psychology
  • Juvenile Delinquency / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Mass Screening*
  • Medical History Taking / statistics & numerical data
  • Medical Records / statistics & numerical data
  • Peer Group
  • Psychiatry / education
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide / prevention & control
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Texas
  • Violence / prevention & control*
  • Violence / psychology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data