On SAGE Insight: Assaulted and Unheard: Violence Against Healthcare Staff

From NEW SOLUTIONS: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy

The prevalence of violence in healthcare is reported to be greater than in other occupational settings. Research has found, for example, that nurses are subjected to more acts of violence than police officers or prison guards.5  To explore this phenomenon, this collaborative descriptive qualitative study was undertaken by university-affiliated researchers and a union council representing registered practical nurses, personal support workers, and other healthcare staff in Ontario, Canada.

 

The risk factors for violence against healthcare workers have been well documented in this and countless other studies and many solutions have been put forward. These recommended measures, including policy changes, increased staffing, safer building design, improved security, new programs to minimize patient agitation, and others need to be implemented by the healthcare institutions with the participation and control of those at risk. The healthcare staff and their unions or associations should be fully involved. Further research should then focus on evaluating the effectiveness of these new measures. It would also be informative for the public to be given the opportunity to weigh in on the issue of healthcare violence prevention.

 

Abstract

Healthcare workers regularly face the risk of violent physical, sexual, and verbal assault from their patients. To explore this phenomenon, a collaborative descriptive qualitative study was undertaken by university-affiliated researchers and a union council representing registered practical nurses, personal support workers, and other healthcare staff in Ontario, Canada. A total of fifty-four healthcare workers from diverse communities were consulted about their experiences and ideas. They described violence-related physical, psychological, interpersonal, and financial effects. They put forward such ideas for prevention strategies as increased staffing, enhanced security, personal alarms, building design changes, “zero tolerance” policies, simplified reporting, using the criminal justice system, better training, and flagging. They reported such barriers to eliminating risks as the normalization of violence; underreporting; lack of respect from patients, visitors, higher status professionals, and supervisors; poor communication; and the threat of reprisal for speaking publicly. Inadequate post incident psychological and financial support compounded their distress.

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Article details
Violence Against Healthcare Staff
James T. Brophy, Margaret M. Keith and Michael Hurley
DOI: 10.1177/1048291117732301
From NEW SOLUTIONS: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy

     
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