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Keywords:

  • aggression;
  • violence;
  • SOAS;
  • SOAS-R

Abstract

Proper assessment of aggressive behavior is essential for an understanding of its causes. In 1987, Palmstierna and Wistedt [Acta Psychiatr Scand 76:657-663] introduced the Staff Observation Aggression Scale (SOAS), an instrument for monitoring the frequency, nature, and severity of aggressive incidents. In the present study, the validity of the SOAS severity scoring system was examined, and the severity scores were refined. The SOAS was used to record aggression on six closed wards of three psychiatric hospitals. The SOAS severity scores of 556 aggressive incidents were compared with severity estimates given on Visual Analogue Scales (VASs) by staff members. The original SOAS scores were found to be moderately correlated with the estimates of severity given by staff on the VAS. The SOAS severity scoring system was refined on the basis of the staff severity estimates. The revised scoring method and other refinements in the contents of the instrument led to the construction of the SOAS-R. The SOAS-R seems to be a promising tool for monitoring a wide range of (self-) destructive acts on psychiatric wards. Aggr. Behav. 25:197–209, 1999. © 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.