Impacting on factors promoting intra-group aggression in secure psychiatric settings

Ireland, Jane Louise orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5117-5930, Sebalo, Ivan orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2930-920X, McNeill, Kimberley, Murphy, Kate, Brewer, Gayle orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0690-4548, Ireland, Carol Ann orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-7310-2903, Chu, Simon orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8921-4942, Lewis, Michael orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-5567-3569, Greenwood, Leah Charlotte orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-6193-0867 et al (2019) Impacting on factors promoting intra-group aggression in secure psychiatric settings. Heliyon, 5 (3). e01400.

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Three preliminary and linked studies investigate the impact of making alterations to factors considered relevant to engaging in and experiencing intra-group aggression (bullying) among adult male patients detained in a single secure forensic hospital. Study one (n = 44) outlines the institutional factors, attitudes towards bullying and environmental factors that increase the likelihood of engaging in bullying and or being victimised. Study two (n = 56 patients and 113 staff) assesses the effect of three variations of intervention that aimed to reduce intra-group aggression through direct alteration of the physical and psychosocial environment, using data from both patients and staff. Study three (n = 414) looks at the effects of two variations of the intervention used in study two, which offered patients’ participation in individual and communal activities. It was predicted that changes to the physical and social environment would produce a reduction in the factors shown to predict intra-group aggression. Attitudes supportive of bullying and the presence of social hierarchies each increased the likelihood of engaging in bullying. Indirect changes to the social environment on the wards had more positive effects than those incorporating direct alterations to the physical and social environment. The differences in effectiveness of the two approaches are discussed in relation to the established predictors of intra-group aggression. The research concludes by noting the preliminary nature of the research and outlining potential directions for future research and interventions.

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