Gender and Risk Assessment Accuracy: Underestimating Women’s Violence Potential

Understanding factors that contribute to mental health professionals’ (MHPs’) accuracy in assessing patients risk of violence can inform efforts to improve accuracy and to integrate risk assessment technology with practice. Based on a sample of 147 clinicians who assessed 680 patients in a psychiatric emergency room, this study investigates the influence of patient gender, MHP gender, and their potential interaction on MHPS’ risk assessment accuracy. The results indicate that MHPs of both genders are particularly limited in their ability to assess female patients’ risk of future violence. This finding was not limited to a particular professional group and was not attributable to gender-related differences in violence. Implications for future research on the judgment processes that may underlie MHPs’ limited accuracy with women and for training programs in violence risk assessment are discussed.