A new study has led to the revision of the Brief Rating of the Child and Adolescent Aggression (BRACHA) tool, a unique 14-item questionnaire used to determine which children are most likely to develop aggressive and violent behavior in adolescence. The researchers conducted the study on children in the psychiatric unit of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in an effort to increase prevention of future violent behavior. “Using the BRACHA could help hospitals cut down on violence,” says child and adolescent forensic psychiatrist at Cincinnati Children’s and lead author, Drew Barzman, MD.
The researchers assessed 418 young people who had previous hospitalizations for psychiatric issues. Each of the children was screened by clinicians using the BRACHA tool before being admitted to the psychiatric unit, and nearly 30 percent of the children responded to behaving aggressively. The findings have prompted the researchers to further explore the validity of this tool. They hope to conduct a broader study in order to support their current findings. “The BRACHA may ultimately help doctors improve safety in hospitals, reduce the use of seclusion and restraint in the inpatient setting and focus interventions on reducing aggression-related risk,” says Dr. Barzman. “The long-term goal is to prevent kids from going down a criminal path. If we can find high risk children before they become involved with the juvenile justice system, which is why we are studying 7 to 9 year olds, we can hopefully provide more effective treatment and prevention.”
Additionally, the researchers are closely examining three specific hormones that have been associated with violent behavior in children; cortisol, testosterone and DHEAS. “In previously published studies, investigators linked levels of these hormones with levels and types of aggression and violence,” says Dr. Barzman. “We’re hoping our current salivary study, in conjunction with the BRACHA questionnaire findings, will provide even more meaningful results.”
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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