Should clinicians use average or peak scores on a dynamic risk-assessment measure to most accurately predict inpatient aggression?
Recent advancements in risk assessment have led to the development of dynamic risk-assessment measures that are predictive of inpatient aggression in the short term. However, there are several areas within this field that warrant further empirical investigation, including whether the average, maximum, or most recent risk state assessment is the most valid for predicting subsequent aggression in the medium term. This prospective study compared the predictive validity of three indices (i.e. mean score, peak score, and most recent single time-point rating) of the Dynamic Appraisal of Situational Aggression (DASA) for inpatient aggression. Daily risk ratings were completed for 60 psychiatric inpatients (from the acute wards of a forensic psychiatric hospital) for up to 6 months; a total of 1054 DASA ratings were obtained. Results showed that mean and peak scores on the DASA were better predictors of interpersonal violence, verbal threat, and any inpatient aggression than the DASA single time-point most recent ratings. Overall, the results support the use of the prior week's mean and peak scores to aid the prediction of inpatient aggression within inpatient forensic psychiatric settings in the short to medium term. These results also have practical implications for clinicians considering risk-management strategies and the scoring of clinically-relevant items on risk-assessment measures.