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Aggression and violent incidents are a major concern in psychiatric in-patient care. Nutritional supplementation has been found to reduce aggressive incidents and rule violations in forensic populations and children with behavioural problems.
To assess whether multivitamin, mineral and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation would reduce the number of aggressive incidents among long-stay psychiatric in-patients.
The trial was a pragmatic, multicentre, randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled study. Data were collected from 25 July 2016 to 29 October 2019, at eight local sites for mental healthcare in The Netherlands and Belgium. Participants were randomised (1:1) to receive 6-month treatment with either three supplements containing multivitamins, minerals and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, or placebo. The primary outcome was the number of aggressive incidents, determined by the Staff Observation Aggression Scale – Revised (SOAS-R). Secondary outcomes were patient quality of life, affective symptoms and adverse events.
In total, 176 participants were randomised (supplements, n = 87; placebo, n = 89). Participants were on average 49.3 years old (s.d. 14.5) and 64.2% were male. Most patients had a psychotic disorder (60.8%). The primary outcome of SOAS-R incidents was similar in supplement (1.03 incidents per month, 95% CI 0.74–1.37) and placebo groups (0.90 incidents per month, 95% CI 0.65–1.19), with a rate ratio of 1.08 (95% CI 0.67–1.74, P = 0.75). Differential effects were not found in sensitivity analyses on the SOAS-R or on secondary outcomes.
Six months of nutritional supplementation did not reduce aggressive incidents among long-stay psychiatric in-patients.