In a study published in PLOS One, researchers  have proposed an entirely new approach to risk assessment for future violence. Previous approaches have relied on looking at risk factors that happen to be linked to, but may not cause, violence, for example, being young, male, of lower social class, with previous violent convictions.

The new approach is instead based on identifying risk factors that have a clear causal link to violence, and include symptoms of major mental disorder, the patient’s living condition, and whether they are taking medication.

Over 300 risk assessment instruments are currently used by psychiatrists, psychologists, and probation officers to assess the risks of violence and sexual offending among psychiatric patients, prisoners, and the general population. The authors say that producing risk assessment instruments has become an ‘industry’ and new ones are being produced annually.

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