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New Tool Helps ID Vets at Risk of Violence

New Tool Helps ID Vets at Risk of ViolenceResearchers have developed a new screening tool to help clinicians identify which veterans may be at greater risk of violence.

The screening tool, called the Violence Screening and Assessment of Needs (VIO-SCAN), asks veterans about financial stability, combat experience, alcohol misuse, history of violence, or arrests, and probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) plus anger.

“When we hear about a veteran being violent, there is a knee-jerk reaction that it stems from PTSD. The VIO-SCAN shows that PTSD is relevant to screening risk but is only the tip of the iceberg.

“Non-PTSD factors need to be looked at, such as alcohol abuse or past criminal behavior, just like in civilians,” said study lead author Eric Elbogen, Ph.D.

On the VIO-SCAN, veterans give yes or no answers to questions such as, “Did you personally witness someone being seriously wounded or killed?” and “Have you ever been violent towards others or arrested for a crime?”

The answer to each question is scored as either zero or one. The score for each answer is combined to yield an overall score ranging from zero to five, with zero indicating generally lower risk and five indicating generally higher risk.

“We believe this screening tool will provide clinicians with a rapid, systematic method for identifying veterans at higher risk of violence.

“It can help prioritize those in need a full clinical workup, structure review of empirically supported risk factors, and develop plans collaboratively with veterans to reduce risk and increase successful reintegration in the community,” Elbogen said.

However, Elbogen cautions, the VIO-SCAN is not intended to be a comprehensive assessment of whether a veteran will or will not be violent.

Instead, it is a screen identifying whether a veteran may be at high risk and thereby require a full clinical workup to make a final risk judgment.

Source: University of North Carolina

New Tool Helps ID Vets at Risk of Violence

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). New Tool Helps ID Vets at Risk of Violence. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 26, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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