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Approaches and challenges to assessing risk of violence in first episode psychosis: A qualitative interview study of clinicians, patients and carers.

AIM: Clinical services for early psychosis seek to improve prognosis for a range of adverse outcomes. For some individuals, perpetration of violence is an important potential outcome to reduce. How these clinical services currently assess this risk however is uncertain. This study aimed to address this gap by using qualitative methods to examine in depth current approaches, attitudes and challenges to assessing violence risk in this clinical setting, from the perspectives of multidisciplinary clinicians, patients and carers.

METHODS: Participants were recruited from two UK Early Intervention in Psychosis services. Semi-structured individual interviews were undertaken using a topic guide. In addition, clinical vignettes were presented to clinician participants as a probe to prompt discussion. Data were analysed using thematic analysis, informed by the constant comparative method.

RESULTS: We conducted 30 qualitative interviews, of 18 clinicians and 12 patients and carers. Themes developed from clinician interviews included key difficulties of low confidence, limited training, accessing collateral information and variation in how risk is appraised and communicated. Potential stigma and sensitivity of the topic of violence were perceived as barriers to its discussion. Patient and carer perspectives provided insight into how to address barriers, and highlighted the importance of an open approach, including with families.

CONCLUSIONS: We recommend developing contextually appropriate pathways to collaboratively assess violence risk and identify modifiable needs to reduce this risk, and for practical improvements in training and information-sharing.

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