A survey was undertaken to investigate assaults of psychiatrists by patients in a 12-month period. Surveys were sent to 199 psychiatrists representing all sub-specialties and grades in a London mental health trust.
There were 129 returned responses (response rate 64.8%). In the 12-month study period, 12.4% of all psychiatrists and 32.4% of senior house officers were assaulted. None received or took up offers of formal, as opposed to informal, psychological support. Most assaults occurred on a psychiatric ward. Vulnerability to assaults was not influenced by courses on prevention and management of violence or by the attitudes of psychiatrists to violence by psychiatric patients.
Senior house officers are most vulnerable to assaults. Greater attention may need to be given to psychiatric wards where most assaults occurred. Trusts should ensure that those assaulted are identified and offered support.
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