Wednesday, April 25, 2007

When patients turn to stalkers

Stalking involves recurrent and persistent unwanted communication or contact that generates fear for safety in the victims. Stalking of health professionals has been defined as 'patients making unwanted communications or contacts repeatedly (on more than ten occasions) and persistently (for more than four weeks) such that the behaviour produced some anxiety'. Stalking activities can include loitering, following, making approaches, giving unwanted gifts, engaging in unwanted communication and damaging property. The effects of stalking can include increased anxiety and depression and intrusive recollections and flashbacks. A survey of New Zealand mental-health clinicians has found that women were more likely than men to have been stalked and were more frightened by the experience. Less than half of the stalkers were clients ; the rest were former partners, colleagues or acquaintances. In client-related cases the majority of respondents told their colleagues or supervisors first and the majority found them to be the most helpful resource.

Hughes, Frances A., Thom, Katey and Dixon, Robyn - Nature and prevalence of stalking among New Zealand mental health clinicians Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services April 2007, 45(4), 33-39

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