What are the environmental factors that cause violence in an acute psychiatric ward?


The environment is a very important factor in violence. Three groups of environmental factors particularly influential are  the following.

1.Physical facilities provided for patients, visitors and staff

2. The experience, training, supervision and numbers of staff

3. The policies in place to manage the clinical environment.

Individual factors found to increase the risk of violence are as follows

  • Lack of structured activity (there are fewer violent incidents in occupational and other therapy areas)
  • High use of temporary staff
  • Low levels of staff–patient interaction
  • Poor staffing levels
  • Poorly defined staffing roles
  • Unpredictable ward programmes
  • Lack of privacy
  • Overcrowding
  • Poor physical facilities
  • Availability of weapons


1.Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1998

2. Davison, Advances in Psychiatric Treatment (2005),11: 362-370

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