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Characteristics of Workplace Threats Requiring Response From a University Threat Assessment Team

Cao, YanYan MS; Yang, Jingzhen PhD; Ramirez, Marizen PhD; Peek-Asa, Corinne PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2013 - Volume 55 - Issue 1 - p 45–51
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31826bb66a
Original Articles

Objective: In response to concerns about campus violence, universities are implementing threat assessment teams. In 2008, a large university's new threat assessment team began to identify and respond to potentially harmful situations.

Methods: Events that involved the threat assessment team from August 2008 through December 2010 were examined to describe subjects, referral sources, and team actions.

Results: The team responded to 284 events—approximately 10 per month. Employees were the subject in 21.5% of events, students in 60.2%, and visitors in 18.3%. External threats, including assaults, threats, harassment, and stalking, comprised 49.5% of cases, and internal threats, including suicide attempt/ideation and mental health or behavior concerns, comprised 50.5%.

Conclusion: The university team responded to a wide variety of events referred from multiple units across campus and that involved a combination of employees, students, and visitors.

From the Departments of Epidemiology (Ms Cao), Community and Behavioral Health (Dr Yang), and Occupational and Environmental Health (Drs Ramirez and Peek-Asa), University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center, Iowa City, Iowa.

Address correspondence to: Corinne Peek-Asa, PhD, Professor, Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center, 105 River Street S143 CPHB, Iowa City, IA 52252 (

This work was funded by the CDC/NCIPC-funded University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center (CDC R40 CE0011567).

The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.

Copyright © 2013 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine