Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mental Illness By Itself Does Not Predict Future Violent Behavior, Study Finds

Date:
February 3, 2009
Source:
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Summary:
People with mental illness alone are no more likely than anyone else to commit acts of violence, a new study concludes. But mental illness combined with substance abuse or dependence elevates the risk for future violence.

People with mental illness alone are no more likely than anyone else to commit acts of violence, a new study by UNC researchers concludes. But mental illness combined with substance abuse or dependence elevates the risk for future violence.

Related Articles


"Our study shows that a link between mental illness and violence does exist, but it's not as strong as most people think," said Eric B. Elbogen, Ph.D., lead author of the study and assistant professor in the forensic psychiatry program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

"We found that several other factors – such as a history of past violence or substance abuse or a recent divorce or loss of one's job – are much more predictive of future violence than mental illness alone," Elbogen said. "Only when a person has both mental illness and substance abuse at the same time does that person's risk of future violence outweigh anyone else's."

UNC co-author Sally C. Johnson, M.D. added, "These findings challenge the perception some people have, and which you often see reflected in media coverage, that mental illness alone makes someone more dangerous. Our study shows that this perception is just not correct."

Elbogen and Johnson's study is published in the February 2009 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. To arrive at their findings, they conducted statistical analyses of data collected previously as part of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) conducted by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

A total of 34,653 people completed interviews during the two separate waves of NESARC. Wave 1 took place from 2001-2002 while wave 2 was from 2004-2005. Wave 1 data on severe mental illness – including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression – were analyzed to predict wave 2 data on violent behavior.

The results show "that if a person has severe mental illness without substance abuse and history of violence, he or she has the same chances of being violent during the next 3 years as any other person in the general population," Elbogen and Johnson wrote.

When mental illness is combined with substance abuse, the risk for future violence reaches the level of statistical significance. However, even mental illness combined with substance abuse ranks only ninth on the study's list of the top 10 predictors of future violence. The higher ranking predictors, listed in order of their predictive value, are age (younger people are more likely to commit acts of violence), history of violence, sex (males are more prone to violence), history of juvenile detention, divorce or separation in the past year, history of physical abuse, parental criminal history and unemployment for the past year. Victimization in the past year was the tenth predictor.

"The data shows it is simplistic as well as inaccurate to say the cause of violence among mentally ill individuals is the mental illness itself … the current study finds that mental illness is clearly relevant to violence risk but that its causal roles are complex, indirect, and embedded in a web of other (and arguably more) important individual and situational cofactors to consider," the study concludes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Eric B. Elbogen, Sally C. Johnson. The Intricate Link Between Violence and Mental Disorder: Results From the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 2009; 66 (2): 152-161 [link]

Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Mental Illness By Itself Does Not Predict Future Violent Behavior, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090202174814.htm>.
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. (2009, February 3). Mental Illness By Itself Does Not Predict Future Violent Behavior, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090202174814.htm
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Mental Illness By Itself Does Not Predict Future Violent Behavior, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090202174814.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins