Aggressive behaviour in the high-secure forensic setting: the perceptions of patients. Academic Article uri icon


  • Twenty-seven patients undergoing treatment in a high-secure forensic facility participated in focus group interviews to elicit their perceptions of (1) the factors leading to aggressive behaviour; and (2) strategies to reduce the risk of such behaviour. The focus group interviews were audiotaped, transcribed and analysed using content analysis. The participants identified that a combination of patient, staff and environmental factors contributed to violence in the study wards. The cause of aggressive behaviour centred around five major themes: the environment; empty days; staff interactions; medication issues; and patient-centred factors. Potential strategies identified by patients to reduce aggressive behaviour included: early intervention; the provision of meaningful activities to reduce boredom; separation of acutely disturbed patients; improved staff attitudes; implementation of effective justice procedures; and a patient advocate to mediate during times of conflict. Findings suggested that social and organizational factors need to be addressed to change the punitive subculture inherent in forensic psychiatric facilities, and to ensure a balance between security and effective therapy.

published proceedings

  • J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs

author list (cited authors)

  • Meehan, T., McIntosh, W., & Bergen, H.

citation count

  • 127

complete list of authors

  • Meehan, T||McIntosh, W||Bergen, H

publication date

  • February 2006