Multiple facets of risk for violence: The impact of judgmental specificity on structured decisions about violence risk

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Among the many advances that have occurred in the field of violence risk assessment over the past decade has been the realization that violence is multifaceted. Violence and the risk for violence include many facets including the severity, density, imminence, target and nature of violence. Despite advances in the understanding and conceptualization of violence and risk, very few empirical risk assessment studies have considered the multifaceted nature of violence. Using a structured professional judgment model of risk assessment, the present study evaluated whether more highly specific judgments of violence (i.e., low, moderate, or high risk for short-term violence, or serious violence, versus violence generally) could be made with reasonable reliability and incremental validity. The findings suggested that more specific judgments about particular facets of violence were not made with the same reliability and validity as either the numerical scores or the omnibus structured clinical risk ratings for general violence. The possible reasons for the findings are discussed with suggestions for future research to continue to study this important area.