Perceptions of aggression in mental health clients
Cathy Leigh Hueske
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In mental healthcare identifying factors including those that exist within the client-caregiver alliance is important so that aggression can be eliminated or minimized. The naturalistic inquiry method answered the following research questions: 1) What factors do licensed and unlicensed mental health workers perceive as triggers of aggressive behavior responses in hospitalized mental health clients? and 2) How do licensed and unlicensed mental health workers perceive their actions and behaviors influence the precipitation of aggressive behaviors among hospitalized mental health clients? A purposive sample of 15 mental healthcare workers was necessary to obtain saturation and redundancy. Demographic data were collected from caregivers with an average of 15 years of mental health experience working in nursing and social service departments. The purposes of this study were to: 1) describe the perceptions mental health workers have of the causes of aggressive responses in hospitalized mental health clients, and 2) explore mental health workers perceptions of how their actions and behaviors influence the precipitation of aggressive behaviors among hospitalized mental health clients. Participants interviewed were audiotaped to gather rich thick descriptions of the phenomena understudy. Audiotapes of the interview were transcribed for data analysis. Guided by the theoretical framework of Symbolic Interactionism, the overarching concept of aggression as an interactive process emerged from the participants’ descriptions. The supporting constructs were building, exploding and recovering from aggression. The categories for the constructs were knowing, managing, resulting outcomes and procession aggression emerged from several subcategories and themes. The findings of this study provide direction for further research involving triggers of aggression in the mentally ill and the influence of caregivers’ actions and behaviors on the hospitalized mentally ill.