Assessing violence risk in adolescents in the pediatric emergency department: Systematic review and clinical guidance

Megan M. Mroczkowski*, John T. Walkup, Paul S. Appelbaum

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Violence risk assessment is one of the most frequent reasons for child and adolescent psychiatry consultation with adolescents in the pediatric emergency department (ED). Here we provide a systematic review of risk factors for violence in adolescents using the risk factor categories from the MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment study. Further, we provide clinical guidance for assessing adolescent violence risk in the pediatric ED. Methods: For this systematic review, we used the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PRISMA) 2009 checklist. We searched PubMed and PsycINFO databases (1966-July 1, 2020) for studies that reported risk factors for violence in adolescents. Results: Risk factors for adolescent violence can be organized by MacArthur risk factor categories. Personal characteristics include male gender, younger age, no religious affiliation, lower IQ, and Black, Hispanic, or multiracial race. Historical characteristics include a younger age at first offense, higher number of previous criminal offenses, criminal history in one parent, physical abuse, experiencing poor child-rearing, and low parental education level. Among contextual characteristics, high peer delinquency or violent peer- group membership, low grade point average and poor academic performance, low connectedness to school, truancy, and school failure, along with victimization, are risk factors. Also, firearm access is a risk factor for violence in children and adolescents. Clinical characteristics include substance use, depressive mood, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, antisocial traits, callous/unemotional traits, grandiosity, and justification of violence. Conclusion: Using MacArthur risk factor categories as organizing principles, this systematic review recommends the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY) risk- assessment tool for assessing adolescent violence risk in the pediatric ED.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-542
Number of pages10
JournalWestern Journal of Emergency Medicine
Volume22
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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