Measuring the Risk of Violence in Forensic Psychiatry



The article describes the understanding of the term "risk of violence" by foreign forensic psychiatrists, which sometimes is translated as "the risk of aggressive actions". The reasons for the existing problem of successful prediction of socially dangerous acts (SDAs) in patients with severe mental disorders are discussed. The following aspects of risk assessment were considered: clinical, legal and methodological. The risk of violence assessment is a complex analysis of multiple sources of information on various characteristics of the patient and his/her life circumstances. The issue of reliability of such forecasts is discussed. The general and specific goals of violence risk assessment are described. A list of characteristics used by professionals in assessing the risk of violence is provided. Brief description of the strengths and weaknesses of the two approaches currently existing in the field of risk assessment: discretionary and non-discretionary, is provided.

General Information

Keywords: risk of violence assessment, mentally ill individuals who committed SDA, actuarial tools, forecast accuracy, clinical judgment, discretionary and non-discretionary approaches.

Journal rubric: Juridical Psychology

Article type: scientific article

For citation: Bulygina V.G. Measuring the Risk of Violence in Forensic Psychiatry [Elektronnyi resurs]. Psikhologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie [Psychological Science and Education], 2011. Vol. 3, no. 1 (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Voronin V.S., Bulygina V.G. Problema ocenki riska vnutribol'nichnoi agressii // Problemy profilaktiki obshestvennoi opasnosti psihicheski bol'nyh: Sb. nauch.trudov/ Pod red. T.B.Dmitrievoi, V.P.Kotova. M. ?Troickoe, 2007.
  2. Mal'ceva M.M., Kotov V.P. Opasnye deistviya psihicheski bol'nyh. M., 1995.
  3. Polubinskaya S.V. Opasnost' lic, stradayushih psihicheskimi rasstroistvami, pri naznachenii prinuditel'nyh mer medicinskogo haraktera: ponyatie ?social'nyi prognoz? // Problemy profilaktiki obshestvennoi opasnosti psihicheski bol'nyh: Sb. nauch. trudov / Pod red. T.B.Dmitrievoi,  V.P.Kotova. M.?Troickoe,2007.
  4. Shishkov S.N. Pravovye aspekty primeneniya prinuditel'nyh mer medicinskogo haraktera // Prinuditel'noe lechenie v sisteme profilaktiki obshestvenno opasnyh deistvii psihicheski bol'nyh. M. 1987.
  5. Monahan J., Steadman H.J., Appelbaum P.  at al. Actuarial Model of Violence Risk Assessment for Persons with Mental Disorders // Psychiatr Serv. 2005. V. 56.
  6. Alfarnes S. A.  Risk Assessment of Violence in the Psychiatry // Norwegian Journal of Psychology. 2003. V.40.
  7. Banks S., Robbins P.C., Silver E., Vesselinov R., Steadman H.J., Monahan J., Mulvey E.P., Appelbaum P.S., Grisso T.,  Roth L.H. A Multiple-models Approach to Violence Risk Assessment among People with Mental Disorder// Criminal Justice and Behaviour. 2004. V. 31.
  8. Buchanan A. Risk of Violence by Psychiatric Patients: Beyond the «Actuarial Versus Clinical» Assessment // Psychiatr Serv. 2008. V. 59.
  9. Grann M., Långström N., Yourstone J. SBU-report. Risk Assessment of Violence in the Psychiatry //Is it Possible to Make Risk Assessments? A Methaanalyzis. Social Governmental Department, Sweden, 2005.
  10. Greg A., Robert A. Incarceration, Homelessness, and Mental Health: A National Study// Psychiatr Serv.2008. V.59.  
  11. Hare R. D., Clark D., Grann M., Thornton D. Psychopathy and the Predictive Validity of the PCL-R: an International Perspective // Behaviour Science Law. 2000. V. 18.
  12. Hodgins S. Persistent Violent Offending: What do We Know? // The British Journal of Psychiatry. 2007. V. 190.
  13. Monahan J. Developing a Clinically Useful Actuarial Tool for Assessing Violence Risk Advan // Psychiatr. Treat. 2007. V. 13.
  14. Mulvey E.P., Lidz Ch.W. Conditional Prediction: A Model for Research on Dangerousness to Others in a New Era // International Journal of Law and Psychiatry. 1995. Vol. 18. № 2.
  15. Stadtland C, Nedopil N. Aspects of Basic Management of Offenders with Mental Disorders Martin Humphreys/ Violence in clinical psychiatry.Amsterdam. 2005. V. 76.
  16. Steadman H., Robbins P.C. Revalidating the Brief Jail Mental Health Screen to Increase Accuracy for Women // Psychiatr. Serv. 2007. V. 58.
  17. Webster C., Douglas K.S., Eaves D., Hart S. Assessing Risk for Violence. Simon Fraser University, 1997.

Information About the Authors

Vera G. Bulygina, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Head of Laboratory of Psychohygiene and Psychoprophylaxis, V.P. Serbsky National Medical Research Center of Psychiatry and Narcology of the Ministry of Health of Russian Federation, Professor, Department of Clinical and Forensic Psychology, Faculty of Legal Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



Total: 3229
Previous month: 14
Current month: 7


Total: 1163
Previous month: 2
Current month: 0