Management of aggressive behaviour among adolescents in forensic units: A four-country perspective

J. Berg, R. Kaltiala-Heino, Maritta Anneli Vaelimaeki

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This study explores staff perception of management of adolescent aggressive behaviour in forensic units in four European countries. For staff, adolescent aggressive behaviour poses a management challenge because of its frequent occurrence. Staff preferred using verbal interventions to manage adolescent aggressive behaviour. They perceived the use of coercive measures as the last option to resolve challenging situations. Differences between countries were reported in the use of restrictive methods. Countries with a longer history of treatment experience of the adolescents tended to use less physical restraints and less often. However, the principles of aggression management were fairly similar. Awareness of aggression management practices would help to manage aggressive situations effectively. This affects the safety of the unit and the occupational safety of the staff. In addition, exploring aggression management across cultures helps in finding good practices when managing challenging situations. Management of aggressive behaviour is a challenge in adolescent forensic units. Aggressive behaviour endangers the safety of the treatment milieu for patients and nursing and multidisciplinary staff. However, there is a paucity of literature about how the staff manage aggressive behaviour among patients in adolescent forensic settings, and whether the nursing practices are similar across countries. The purpose of this study was to explore nursing practices used to manage adolescent aggressive behaviour in adolescent forensic units in four European countries. An exploratory, descriptive research approach was adopted for the study. A convenience sampling was used by selecting the staff members working in adolescent forensic units (Belgium n= 15, Finland n= 18, the Netherlands n= 16, the UK n= 9). Personal thematic interviews were used to collect the data; and for data analysis, qualitative content analysis was applied. Staff members preferred using verbal and less restrictive interventions when intervening in escalated situations and perceived the use of coercive measures as the last option. Differences between countries were found in the use of restrictive methods. The principles of aggression management were fairly similar across Europe, even if differences were reported in practical solutions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)776-785
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Aggression
  • Forensic
  • Management
  • Nursing
  • Qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health

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