• Anne-Sofie Aalborg
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
Within the recent years, violence in Danish workplaces has been a growing problem. Especially in the social psychiatry there has a been an increase in violent assaults on staff. The consequences of the assaults are multi-dimensional and can include both physical, psychological , social, economic repercussions.
The pivot of this thesis is social workers’ risk assessment of physical and psychological violence in social psychiatry. The purpose is to investigate which risk factors social workers emphasize, when they are assessing risks of violence, and which actions they find necessary to prevent violent assaults from happening.
The study was carried out using the vignette method. The empirical evidence, includes both quantitative and qualitative data, which have been collected using a national internet-based inquiry and by focus group interviews. Twenty-seven of the country's social psychiatry residential homes participated in the vignette survey, and staff from three residential homes were interviewed.
The research indicates that the social workers’ concern was related to the combination and accumulation of risk factors rather than specific factors. Some risk factors, however, stands out. These factors where primarily related to interaction between the staff and the mentally ill. The study furthermore showed that the participants, to a large extent, founded their risk assessment on unguided clinical assessment, based on personal experience and assumptions, rather than actuarial statistically based risk assessment methods. The reason for this could be, that the actuarial assessment methods do not include factors related to the interaction between the staff and the mentally ill.
A vast majority of the social workers in the study estimated, that there is substantial risk of violence in the vignettes. In spite of this, most of the participants assessed that the situations in the vignettes, should be handled without the use of force as a preventive measure. There seem to be two main reasons for this assessment.
First of all, some social workers seem to believe, that the use of force, is not in line with their understanding of good social work. This implies that social workers are expected to de-escalate conflicts through dialog and professional calmness.
Secondly, resource deficiencies in mental health services, has led to difficulties in hospitalizing aggressive mentally ill residents. This implies that social workers, must expose themselves to unsafe situations and try to escalate conflicts themselves. Some social workers describe, that they can be deemed unfit to work in social psychiatry by their employers, if they express concern about security measures.
The thesis concludes that social workers’ asses the risk of violence in a field of demands from several players; demands from the individual resident to be recognized and cared for, demands from the employers for the social workers to be willing to expose themselves to unsafe situations and demands from themselves to undertake professional integrity and security precautions.
Publication date1 Aug 2016
Number of pages117
ID: 237848415