A Systematic Review of Violence Risk Assessment Tools Currently Used in Emergency Care Settings

Dana Sammut, Nutmeg Hallett*, Liz Lees-Deutsch, Geoffrey L. Dickens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)



Violence risk assessment is commonplace in mental health settings and is gradually being used in emergency care. The aim of this review was to explore the efficacy of undertaking violence risk assessment in reducing patient violence and to identify which tool(s), if any, are best placed to do so.


CINAHL, Embase, Medline, and Web of Science database searches were supplemented with a search of Google Scholar. Risk of bias assessments were made for intervention studies, and the quality of tool development/testing studies was assessed against scale development criteria. Narrative synthesis was undertaken.


Eight studies were included. Three existing violence risk assessment tools featured across the studies, all of which were developed for use with mental health patients. Three newly developed tools were developed for emergency care, and 1 additional tool was an adaptation of an extant tool. Where tested, the tools demonstrated that they were able to predict patient violence, but did not reduce restraint use. The quality issues of the studies are a significant limitation and highlight the need for additional research in this area.


There is a paucity of high-quality evidence evaluating the psychometric properties of violence risk assessment tools currently used along the emergency care pathway. Multiple tools exist, and they could have a role in reducing violence in emergency care. However, the limited testing of their psychometric properties, acceptability, feasibility, and usability in emergency care means that it is not possible to favor one tool over another until further research is conducted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-386.e5
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Emergency Nursing
Issue number3
Early online date29 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023

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