A Longitudinal Analysis of Stress, Social Support and Violence by People With Mental Disorders

Brent Teasdale, The Pennsylvania State University

There has been a wealth of research on the causes of violence by people with mental disorders. These investigations have largely been confined to explorations of clinical variables, such as treatment non-adherence, substance use and abuse, and psychotic symptoms. In contrast a developing body of research investigates the social contexts of violence by people with mental disorders. This literature highlights the importance of stress and social support in both the etiology of mental illness and the expression of symptoms by people with mental disorders. In addition, Agenew's general strain theory emphasizes the importance of social stressors for crime, generally and Cullen's social support framework emphasizes the role that support plays in preventing crime and violence. Based on these perspectives, I hypothesize that high levels of stress and low levels of social support are important predictors of violence amonh people with mental disorders. I analyze data from the Mac Arthur Violence Risk Assessment Study, a longitudinal study of discharged psychiatric patients in the community. I utlize hierarchical growth curve modeling techniques that provide a within individual analysis of the predictors of violence.

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Updated 05/20/2006