RCSI Bahrain Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

Study finds lack of training and procedure in mental services across Europe

March 2017: A study led by a Bahrain-based academic has revealed an alarming lack of training and clarity on matters of procedure and policy concerned with violence management in healthcare professionals working in mental health services across Europe.

The findings were produced as part of study authored by Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland - Medical University of Bahrain (RCSI Bahrain) Head of School of Nursing and Midwifery, Professor Seamus Cowman, which has been published in the journal, BMC Health Services Research.

Based on a survey of 2,800 healthcare professionals, including psychiatrists, nurses, outpatients and forensic staff, from 17 countries across Europe, the report highlighted a lack of direction on best practice in the management of violence in European mental health services and identified a high proportion of professionals (19.5%) who had received no formal training on violence management
This study, which also featured researchers from RCSI, Dublin; National University of Ireland, Galway; Athlone Institute of Technology and Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden identified a need for European Union (EU) directives on risk management of workplace violence in mental health which will unify and enforce best practice to governments, employers and professional bodies in each EU state.

Speaking on the research, lead author, Professor Cowman said: "In mental health services, in order to prevent aggressive patients from harming themselves, other patients or staff, coercive measures and foremost, violence management strategies are required, which do not currently exist. In agriculture, the use of land and the welfare of farm animals and fishing is regulated, yet in mental health services, a vital and controversial human intervention such as coercion and violence management is devoid of EU direction on best practice."

Professor Cowman highlighted the role language differences play in the lack of consensus between mental health professionals, the lack of collaborative research and fragmentation in psychiatric services across Europe. He said: "Language differences are a reality and may have contributed to insular thinking; however, it is vital that this must not be seen as a barrier to sharing best practice. There is a real need to grow a formal mental health communication network in Europe."