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.

"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 September 20, 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 September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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