Tool developed to predict violence and aggression in children and teens

June 13, 2011

Researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center have developed a tool to rapidly assess the risk of aggressive and violent behavior by children and adolescents hospitalized on psychiatric units. Ultimately, they hope to use the questionnaire to improve treatment and prevention of aggressive behavior in schools and in the community.

A study providing preliminary validation of the Brief Rating of the Child and Adolescent Aggression (BRACHA) tool is published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.

"Using the BRACHA could help hospitals cut down on violence," says Drew Barzman, MD, a child and adolescent forensic psychiatrist at Cincinnati Children's and lead author of the study.

The study involved 418 children and teens who had been hospitalized on psychiatric units at Cincinnati Children's. Prior to hospitalization, they were evaluated in the emergency department by psychiatric social workers who administered the BRACHA questionnaire. A total of 292 aggressive acts were committed by 120 of the hospitalized patients (or 29 percent). Fourteen of the 16 items on the survey were significantly associated with aggression by children and teens.

The researchers expect to further validate the updated 14-item BRACHA questionnaire in a larger study of about 1,000 to 1,500 patients in their database.

"The BRACHA may ultimately help doctors improve safety in hospitals, reduce the use of seclusion and restraint in the inpatient setting and focus interventions on reducing aggression-related risk," says Dr. Barzman. "The long-term goal is to prevent kids from going down a criminal path. If we can find high risk children before they become involved with the juvenile justice system, which is why we are studying 7 to 9 year olds, we can hopefully provide more effective treatment and prevention."

The BRACHA study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and Cincinnati Children's.

Combining Questionnaire with New Research

Dr. Barzman and fellow researchers also are now examining two dozen 7- to 9-year-old psychiatric inpatients to determine whether levels of three hormones in their saliva (biomarkers of pediatric aggression) - testosterone, cortisol and DHEAS - can be combined with the BRACHA questionnaire to even better predict aggressive behavior in the hospital and also improve treatment and prevention outside hospital walls.

"In previously published studies, investigators linked levels of these hormones with levels and types of aggression and violence," says Dr. Barzman. "We're hoping our current salivary study, in conjunction with the BRACHA questionnaire findings, will provide even more meaningful results."
-end-
The salivary hormone study is being funded by the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Related Aggression Articles from Brightsurf:

Should I run, or should I not? The neural basis of aggression and flight
Researchers in the Gross group at EMBL Rome have investigated the mechanism behind defensive behaviour in mice.

Most dentists have experienced aggression from patients
Roughly half of US dentists experienced verbal or reputational aggression by patients in the past year, and nearly one in four endured physical aggression, according to a new study led by researchers at NYU College of Dentistry.

Swans reserve aggression for each other
Swans display more aggression to fellow swans than other birds, new research shows.

Group genomics drive aggression in honey bees
Researchers often study the genomes of individual organisms to try to tease out the relationship between genes and behavior.

How experiencing traumatic stress leads to aggression
Traumatic stress can cause aggression by strengthening two brain pathways involved in emotion, according to research recently published in JNeurosci.

New insights into how genes control courtship and aggression
Fruit flies, like many animals, engage in a variety of courtship and fighting behaviors.

Two hormones drive anemonefish fathering, aggression
Two brain-signaling molecules control how anemonefish dads care for their young and respond to nest intruders, researchers report in a new study.

Solitude breeds aggression in spiders (rather than vice versa)
Spiders start out social but later turn aggressive after dispersing and becoming solitary, according to a study publishing July 2 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Raphael Jeanson of the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France, and colleagues.

Interparental aggression often co-occurs with aggression toward kids
Parents in the midst of a psychologically or physically aggressive argument tend to also be aggressive with their children, according to researchers at Penn State.

Familiarity breeds aggression
Aggressiveness among animals may increase the longer individuals live together in stable groups.

Read More: Aggression News and Aggression Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.