Transcending the Actuarial Versus Clinical Polemic in Assessing Risk for Violence Academic Article uri icon

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  • Much energy has been expended over recent years in debating the relative merits of actuarial versus clinical approaches to violence risk prediction. Although it has gradually become apparent that scores based on more or less static factors obtainable from the record do indeed associate with outcome violence over years of follow-up, there is no reason to suppose that, at least potentially, dynamic variables do not hold as much or more promise when it comes to projections over weeks or months. Clinicians involved in release decision-making might wish to consider the following, in order of importance: (a) the legal framework within which the decision is being made, (b) the thoroughness with which scientific methods have been applied to the particular case at issue, (c) the precision of the individualized statement of violence risk being offered, (d) the steps which could be taken to reduce that risk, and (e) if available, the individual's violence risk assessment score in relation to already amassed pertinent statistical data.


  • Webster, Christopher D
  • Hucker, Stephen J
  • Bloom, Hy

publication date

  • October 2002