Kumar, S., Lutchman, R., Stewart, A.W., Burrett, V.M., Gordon, B.P., Boer, D.P. & Mellsop, G.W. (2009). Risk axis: implementation of structured clinical guidelines for the assessment and management of risk in psychiatry. Asia-Pacific Psychiatry, 1(2), 64-73.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/4172
Introduction: Mental health clinicians routinely assess risk in three domains: suicide, violence and self neglect. While the published work on the assessment of these risks has increased, concerns are often expressed that assessment alone does not lead to management of the identified risk. Not all axes of multiaxial classificatory systems are used by clinicians to the same extent, despite their proven usefulness. It is possible that a dedicated axis for risk management as a part of a multiaxial classificatory system could align risk assessment with management and increase utility of multiaxial classificatory systems. Methods: Based on our earlier work we developed a comprehensive risk management axis (RMA), which was then further refined by conducting a pilot study and then used to collect data retrospectively from the case notes of 100 patients consecutively discharged from a general psychiatric ward. Results: Common association between risk factors and three risk domains were as follows. Violence: active symptoms of major mental illness, employment problems, and major mental illness; Suicide: history of abuse, clinically significant depressive symptoms, and alcohol and drug use; Self neglect: neglect of home, personal safety, noncompliance with treatment, male gender, and low income. We also investigated whether the presence of a particular risk factor acted as a barrier or prompt for clinicians to address management factors in the RMA. Discussion: It is possible to assess risk across the three domains and to derive management plans by using the proposed RMA. Minimal clinical background is necessary for collecting data retrospectively. It should be possible to apply this axis prospectively.