Table 1

Qualitative Themesa and Events Precipitating Incidents and Their Frequencies by Locationb

ThemecParadigmatic ExamplesPsychiatric Emergency Room, n (%)Inpatient Units, n (%)
Psychosis36 (60)71 (57)
 DisorganizationIncident is unprovoked and accompanied by other nonsensical behavior25 (42)56 (45)
 ParanoiaPatient complains that a person is talking about him or her, then strikes that person13 (22)20 (16)
 Perceptual disturbancePatient has command auditory hallucinations to hurt others4 (7)10 (8)
Conflicts with peers8 (13)34 (27)
 TauntingOne patient calls another patient a derogatory name3 (5)17 (14)
 Dispute over limited resourceTwo patients want to use the same computer at the same time0 (0)7 (6)
 Annoyed by behavior on the unitA patient is talking loudly and constantly, which is bothering many on the floor and ultimately triggers an incident1 (2)7 (6)
 Dispute over personal space or propertyA patient enters the wrong room, or roommates disagree on whether the door should be open or closed1 (2)4 (3)
 Direct challenge to fightOne patient challenges another patient to fight2 (3)2 (2)
 RetaliationIncident is a response to an argument that started the previous day0 (0)7 (6)
 Defending othersPatient thinks someone else is about to be attacked1 (2)3 (2)
 Phenomenological escalationPatients are shadow boxing, then start real boxing0 (0)2 (2)
Conflicts with staff20 (33)32 (26)
 Objection to unit rules or structurePatient is asked not to stand next to the door4 (7)18 (15)
 Admission or discharge disputeThe patient wants immediate discharge12 (20)12 (10)
 Perceived needs are not being metPatient demands opioids for pain4 (7)4 (3)
Other themes16 (27)37 (30)
 Accidental assaultPerson is flailing arms without targeting anyone in particular, or a staff member gets pushed while keeping two patients apart1 (2)3 (2)
 Dispute involving foodStaff threw away food a patient was intending to eat0 (0)6 (5)
 Themes related to sexualityPatient feels a romantic connection with a staff member and touches the staff member inappropriately, or targets a perceived rival, or feels insulted on the basis of sexuality3 (5)11 (9)
 Family involvementIncident happens after a family visit6 (10)13 (10)
 Bodily integrityPatient thinks he or she is about to be attacked2 (3)4 (3)
 No identifiable narrativePatient is not described as disorganized, but no clear narrative is mentioned4 (7)1 (1)
  • a The full code book, with definitions for each code or theme, is available in the supplemental materials.

  • b There were n = 60 total incidents in the psychiatric emergency room and n = 124 incidents on the inpatient units.

  • c Category counts (e.g., psychosis) may differ from theme count sums (e.g., disorganization, paranoia, perceptual disturbance) because some incidents involved multiple themes within a category.