The Impact of Inpatient Homicide on Forensic Mental Health Nurses' Distress and Posttraumatic Stress

Joyce Lee, James R. P. Ogloff, Michael Daffern, Trish Martin

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Violence in mental health units can have a profound impact on staff wellbeing. This cross-sectional study explored the impact of patient-perpetrated double homicide on the psychological wellbeing of forensic mental health nurses. Nurses completed self-report questionnaires assessing the impact of aggression and work stress on posttraumatic stress and distress prior to (N = 97) and after (N = 107) a patient killed two other patients in a forensic psychiatric hospital. Following the homicides, nurses generally demonstrated resilience and there were few differences in posttraumatic stress and distress before and after the incident; however, nurses working on the unit where the homicides occurred appear to have been at increased risk of developing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Nurses experiencing increased posttraumatic stress and distress were likely to seek help by accessing psychological support services. Implications for organisations and individual staff members are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-100
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Forensic Mental Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • aggression
  • forensic
  • homicide
  • mental health nursing
  • stress
  • trauma

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