Changes in heart rate and skin conductance in the 30 min preceding aggressive behavior

P. De Looff*, M.L. Noordzij, M. Moerbeek, H. Nijman, R. Didden, P. Embregts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Aggressive behavior of inpatients threatens the safety and well‐being of both men-tal health staff members and fellow patients. It was investigated whether heart rate and electrodermal activity can be used to signal imminent aggression. A naturalistic study was conducted in which 100 inpatients wore sensor wristbands during 5 days to monitor their heart rate and electrodermal activity while staff members recorded patients’ aggressive incidents on the ward. Of the 100 patients, 36 displayed at least one aggressive incident. Longitudinal multilevel models indicated that heart rate, skin conductance level, and the number of nonspecific skin conductance responses per minute rose significantly in the 20 min preceding aggressive incidents. Although psy-chopathy was modestly correlated with displaying aggression, it was not a significant predictor of heart rate and skin conductance preceding aggression. The current find-ings may provide opportunities for the development of individual prediction models to aid acute risk assessment and to predict aggressive incidents in an earlier stage. The current results on the physiological indicators of aggression are promising for reduc-ing aggression and improving both staff as well as patient safety in psychiatric mental health institutions
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13420
JournalPsychophysiology
Volume56
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • ADULTS
  • ANTISOCIAL-BEHAVIOR
  • CHALLENGING BEHAVIOR
  • INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY
  • NURSES
  • PREVALENCE
  • PSYCHOPATHY
  • aggression
  • ambulatory
  • antisocial personality disorder
  • galvanic skin response
  • heart rate
  • monitoring

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