Victimization of People With Severe Mental Illness Outside and Within the Mental Health Care System: Results on Prevalence and Risk Factors From a Multicenter Study [2020]

We performed a cross-sectional study using a self-reporting survey to assess lifetime violent and non-violent victimization in people with severe mental illness experienced both inside (i.e., any service providing mental health care such as psychiatric hospitals, psychosocial rehabilitative programs, or outpatient care) and outside (i.e., in the personal life of the participants) of the mental health care system. We recruited 170 participants from 20 community mental health facilities. We built logistic regression models to assess potential risk factors for victimization inside the mental health care system. Outside of the mental health care system, the most commonly reported events were theft (n=93, 54.7%), physical violence without use of a weapon (n=87, 51.2%), and sexual harassment (n=82, 50.6%). Within the mental health care system, most commonly reported incidents were theft (n=68, 40.0%), sexual assault (n=18, 10.6%), and physical violence (n=47, 27.7%) by other patients or staff. Significant risk factors for specific victimization events inside the mental health care system were psychotic disorder, victimization in childhood and youth, female gender, number of hospitalizations, and duration of illness. Findings call for increased attention to victimization of people with severe mental illness, especially within the mental health care system as such victimization events may severely impact patients’ trajectories.

Verena Rossa-Roccor, Peter Schmid and Tilman Steinert
Frontiers in Psychiatry, 08 September 2020