Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 50, Issue 6, pp 743–751 | Cite as

Staff Perception of Aggressive Behaviour in Community Services for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities

  • Jennifer M. Hensel
  • Yona Lunsky
  • Carolyn S. Dewa
Original Paper


Experiencing aggressive behaviour has been associated with increased stress and turnover among staff who support adults with intellectual disabilities. Incident perception is a strong predictor of psychological outcomes after trauma but has not been studied in this staff group. This study clustered exposure to aggression and endorsement of emotional difficulties among 386 community residential group home staff and evaluated the contribution of four behavioural topographies to staff-rated perceived severity. Staff exposure varied considerably. Perceived severity correlated with subjective emotional difficulties. High perceived severity was associated with daily exposure, aggression towards others causing injury, and property aggression causing injury or damage. Therefore, the role the staff plays, whether a witness or target, may impact their experience.


Aggression Challenging behaviour Community staff Trauma Intellectual disabilities 



The authors would like to acknowledge the direct support staff members from the province of Ontario who responded to the survey used in this study. We would also like to extend thanks to the agencies and individuals from the Ministry of Community and Social Services of Ontario who supported us in these research efforts. Dr. Dewa’s Applied CHIR/PHAC Chair supported this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer M. Hensel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yona Lunsky
    • 2
    • 3
  • Carolyn S. Dewa
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Research on Employment and Workplace HealthCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Dual Diagnosis ProgramCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada

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