Abstract Psychiatric patient assaults on staff victims are a worldwide occupational
hazard. This paper reports on a 15-year study of the characteristics of staff victims of
patient assaults and a crisis intervention procedure to ameliorate the aftermath of
theses incidents. The debate on the efﬁcacy of early interventions is outlined and the
present 15-year ﬁndings are presented, ﬁndings demonstrating remarkable consis-
tency in victim characteristics over time. The crisis intervention procedures were
associated with sharp declines in disrupted victim functioning. The validity of the
study’s ﬁndings are noted and the implications for enhanced risk management
training and staff victim crisis intervention procedures are discussed.
Keywords Assaulted Staff Action Program (ASAP) Æ Staff victim characteristics Æ
Risk management strategies Æ Psychological ﬁrst aid
For over 35 years, empirical research has documented the presence of psychiatric
patient assaults on staff [1–4]. These assaults are frequent, often severe, and are a
worldwide occupational hazard . These assaults may result in death, permanent
disability, time-limited disability, medical injury, sick leave and industrial accident
claims, psychological distress, medical and legal expense, and lost productivity [1–5].
Public sector employees, including health care providers, are frequent victims of
these assaults. In 1996, public sector personnel comprised 16% of the workforce but
were 37% of the victims . In psychiatric health care settings, the most frequent
type of assault is patient assaults on staff victims [6–10].
In spite of the seriousness of this issue, less empirical attention has been
directed to assessing and meeting the needs of the staff victims of these assaults
R. B. Flannery, Jr., Ph.D. (&) Æ E. Farley, R.N., C. Æ S. Rego Æ A. P. Walker, B.A.
Department of Psychology, The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, Worcester State
Hospital, 305 Belmont Street, Worcester, MA 01604, USA
R. B. Flannery, Jr., Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
Psychiatr Q (2007) 78:25–37
Characteristics of Staff Victims of Pschiatric Patient
Assaults: 15-Year Analysis of the Assaulted Staff Action
Raymond B. Flannery, Jr., Ph.D. Æ
Ellen Farley, R.N., C. Æ Stephany Rego Æ
Andrew P. Walker, B.A.
Published online: 11 November 2006
Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006