Perceived consequences to the predictor: a variable in the release of psychiatric patients

Psychol Rep. 1995 Jun;76(3 Pt 2):1371-8. doi: 10.2466/pr0.1995.76.3c.1371.


The present study examined factors hypothesized to influence mental health professionals' perceptions of dangerousness, predictions of violence, and decisions on patients' release. 120 mental health professionals employed in state mental hospitals were each given one of 12 patient profiles. The independent variables, manipulated within vignettes, were (a) violence history, (b) paranoid schizophrenia versus nonparanoid schizophrenia, and (c) perceived consequences in terms of liability and publicity. Type of schizophrenia did not affect ratings, but violence history of the predictee and perceived consequences to the predictor did significantly influence the ratings. Patients with actual violence histories were viewed by the subjects as having more potential for future violence, as being more globally dangerous, and as requiring a more secure placement than those with histories of threats of violence or no violence. Possible litigation following release led to a recommendation for more secure placement than did minimal legal consequences. Predictions of violence and decisions on hospital release were interpreted as dependent on both predictor and patient-related variables.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Dangerous Behavior*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Psychiatric
  • Humans
  • Liability, Legal
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Public Opinion
  • Risk Factors
  • Schizophrenia / rehabilitation
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Violence / prevention & control*
  • Violence / psychology