Journal Article Annotations
2022, 2nd Quarter
Annotations by Scott A. Simpson, MD MPH
This retrospective study evaluated the performance of the 14-item Brief Rating of Aggression by Children and Adolescents (BRACHA) for predicting aggression during a child psychiatric admission. During the 11-year study period, the BRACHA was routinely administered by emergency department (ED) social workers for 10,054 psychiatric admissions at a children’s hospital. BRACHA scores were used to determine an appropriate level of care. In this study, BRACHA scores were correlated with subsequent aggression on an inpatient unit with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.71 for predicting any aggressive incident as defined by the Overt Aggression Scale, including self-aggression. At least one episode of verbal or physical aggression occurred in 33% of admissions. AUCs were better when predicting aggression towards others than when predicting self-aggression.
Strength and weaknesses:
Investigators took advantage of a large naturalistic database derived from usual practice. They excluded admissions to several high-risk units, including among children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Each patient’s first admission was counted. While AUCs were reported, sensitivities and specificities were not. Several different outcomes were tested without controlling for multiple comparisons, and the cut-off points for the BRACHA are not well-described. The high rate of aggression may overstate the performance of the BRACHA. No multivariable analyses were performed, and it is unclear how interventions based on the BRACHA may have impacted outcomes. It is also unknown how gender, race/ethnicity, and other social factors impact instrument performance. Understanding whether the scale contributes to risk prediction during subsequent admissions would have been an invaluable inclusion, particularly as children with a history of violence are frequently denied admission to certain facilities based on that history.
Anticipating and communicating aggression risk is critical for emergency psychiatrists facilitating a safe disposition and helping receiving inpatient units
This systematic review describes the literature on trauma-informed care (TIC) in emergency departments (EDs). EDs are psychologically challenging and triggering environments for patients and staff alike. The authors identified ten peer-reviewed publications describing TIC in ED settings—five describing educational interventions and five reporting operationalization of TIC in the ED. Examples of TIC’s utility for emergency practice included improvement in staff comfort working with sexual assault survivors; decrease in use of restraint and seclusion; and greater staff confidence working with trauma survivors. The TIC framework can be leveraged to inform direct patient care, foster better community collaborations with emergency services, and foster resilience of ED staff.
Strength and weaknesses:
The authors sought to focus on a narrow definition of TIC for this literature review: only peer-reviewed manuscripts explicitly applying TIC were described, and grey literature was not included. The resulting literature is accordingly limited. Only a few studies were identified, and most of these were small and single – site. Prominent themes are described, but there is less discussion of the apparently limited quality of these articles.
Multiple organizations and regulatory bodies emphasize the use of TIC and care delivery, but this systematic review reveals the limited evidence base for these approaches. While greater innovation and more robust evaluation are needed, this review succinctly suggests how TIC can improve the humanity and psychological safety of emergency services for both patients and frontline staff. That TIC may produce such specific and profound benefits such as reducing restraint and seclusion ought to encourage more development and research of TIC-based interventions for patient-focused clinical outcomes. C-L and emergency psychiatrists are well-positioned to lead TIC efforts at their institutions.