P1: GCP/GCZ P2: GCP/GCZ QC:
Psychiatric Quarterly [psaq] PH140-378643-01 October 4, 2002 13:59 Style ﬁle version June 4th, 2002
Psychiatric Quarterly, Vol. 74, No. 1, Spring 2003 (
SAFETY SKILLS OF MENTAL HEALTH
WORKERS: EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE OF A
RISK MANAGEMENT STRATEGY
Raymond B. Flannery, Jr., Ph.D. and Andrew P. Walker, B.A.
To reduce violence in the workplace, health care facilities invest time and
resources in risk management strategies such as photo identiﬁcation and con-
trolled access and surveillance. Studies of assaultive psychiatric patients con-
tinue to document that mental health workers (MHWs) are the most frequent
targets of the patient violence. Unexamined in these ﬁndings is the role skilled
MHWs contribute in restoring safety and order in the aftermath of these as-
saults. This six-year, empirical retrospective study examined the safety skills
of MHWs in containing violence. Although they were 28% of the workforce,
MHWs restored order in the majority of single assault incidents and restraint
procedures. Their skills appear to be a risk management strategy in their own
right. The implications are discussed.
KEY WORDS: assaults; mental health workers; psychiatric patients; restraint
Raymond B. Flannery, Jr., Ph.D., is Senior Psychologist, Massachusetts Department of
Mental Health, and Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry,
Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.
Andrew P. Walker, B.A., is an Information Technology Specialist, Massachusetts De-
partment of Mental Health, Boston, MA.
Address correspondence to Raymond B. Flannery, Jr., Ph.D., Massachusetts Depart-
ment of Mental Health, Worcester State Hospital, Department of Psychology/6B, 305
Belmont Street, Worcester, MA 01604.
2003 Human Sciences Press, Inc.