Aggression is a common and serious problem in our society. Its effects are far-reaching and affect many aspects of human life such as social relationships, physical well being, job satisfaction, emotional health and even suicide rates. While the concept of aggression is a complex issue, one important aspect that has received considerable attention from researchers is how it manifests itself in different forms. There are a number of scales available to measure aggression including the Modified Overt Aggression Scale (MOAS).
The MOAS is a short and easy to administer questionnaire designed to assess overt aggressive behaviors in psychiatric patients ages 13 and up. It was developed to help clinicians better evaluate the frequency and intensity of aggressive behaviors in hospitalized patients with a variety of psychiatric disorders. In addition to assessing the frequency and intensity of aggressive behavior, the MOAS also allows for measurement of other related issues such as irritability and non-compliance.
Although the MOAS has a fairly high level of reliability, it is not a diagnostic tool on its own. Therefore, it should always be used in conjunction with a thorough psychiatric interview to determine the underlying cause of the patient’s aggressive behaviors. In addition to assessing the overall aggression levels of a patient, the MOAS can also be used to monitor changes in agitation and aggressive behavior over time.
In recent years, renewed interest has been focused on the dimensionality of both the Argumentativeness Scale and the Verbal Aggressiveness Scale. Specifically, there has been concern that the Argumentativeness Scale may contain two independent factors or dimensions. This concern has been based on the fact that Infante and Rancer argued that the Argumentativeness Scale contains both an approach tendency to argue and avoidance tendency to argue. However, subsequent research has found that the Argumentativeness Scale is unidimensional.
Similar concerns have been raised with regard to the dimensionality of the Verbal Aggressiveness Scale. In the case of the Verbal aggressiveness scale, Infante and Wigley suggested that in the development of this scale, a first factor consisting of positively worded aggressiveness items and a second factor consisting of negatively worded aggressiveness items emerged. However, these researchers have found that the two factors are highly correlated and therefore do not constitute separate independent dimensions of trait verbal aggressiveness.
Other measures of agitation and aggressiveness include the Ryden Aggression Scale (RAS), which was designed to capture aggressive behaviors in community-dwelling seniors with dementia. The RAS consists of 25 items that are rated on a 6-point scale from zero to five and total scores range from 0 to 125. In addition, the RAS includes a 100-mm Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) to judge the severity of each aggressive incident.
The MOAS can be useful in determining a patient’s current aggression levels and can be helpful in monitoring progress with implementing interventions. When interpreting scores on the MOAS, clinicians should take into account the patient’s demographics, severity ratings for each item, and the total score.