Effective ingredients of verbal de-escalation: validating an English modified version of the ‘De-Escalating Aggressive Behaviour Scale’
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UNLABELLED: WHAT IS KNOWN ON THE SUBJECT?: Verbal de-escalation is an intervention aimed at calmly managing an agitated client to prevent violence. Effective de-escalation can help reduce the use of seclusion and restraint in psychiatric settings. Despite its importance in practice, there is little agreement on the necessary techniques of de-escalation and most of the research on the topic is based on expert opinion. To our knowledge, only one attempt at quantifying de-escalation skill has been pursued through the German-language De-Escalating Aggressive Behaviour Scale (DABS). While the DABS identified seven qualities necessary for de-escalation, it has not been validated in English and may lack important descriptors. WHAT THIS PAPER ADDS TO EXISTING KNOWLEDGE?: The present study enhanced the original DABS with best, acceptable and least desirable staff de-escalation practice descriptions for each of the seven items. This enhancement of the DABS lead to the creation of the English modified DABS (EMDABS). The EMDABS was psychometrically validated for use in research and practice: raters could use the EMDABS with a high level of agreement and consistency. Also, the scale appeared to measure a single cohesive construct - de-escalation. WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE?: With further validation, the EMDABS has potential to be the first English quantitative measure of de-escalation. The EMDABS offers seven items, with associated best practice descriptions, that may be used to inform de-escalation practice. The EMDABS can be used to evaluate training and education programmes and inform how these programmes and independent de-escalation practice may be improved. ABSTRACT: Introduction Verbal de-escalation is crucial to a non-coercive psychiatric environment. Despite its importance, the literature on de-escalation is sparse and mostly qualitative. To address this, Nau et al. (2009) quantified de-escalation by creating the German-language De-Escalating Aggressive Behaviour Scale (DABS). The DABS provides seven skills necessary for de-escalation, however it has not been validated in English and lacks the necessary anchor descriptions to make it useful. Aim To modify the DABS to include descriptions of best, acceptable and least desirable staff practice and to validate the English modified DABS (EMDABS). Method To develop item descriptions for the EMDABS, 50 conflictual staff-patient interactions were reviewed, summarized and cross-referenced with the literature (n = 19). Three raters then used the EMDABS to evaluate 272 simulations depicting these interactions. Results The EMDABS demonstrated very good inter-rater reliability [ICC (3, 1) = 0.752] and strong internal consistency (α = 0.901). A factor analysis revealed that the seven items were best represented by a single factor. Discussion The EMDABS was validated for future use in research and practice. Additional validation and future research directions are discussed. Implications for practice The EMDABS holds promise as a quantitative measure of de-escalation. Its seven items and best practice guidelines have clinical implications for improving practice and training.
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