Workplace violence in Alberta and British Columbia hospitals

Kathryn L Hesketh, Susan M Duncan, Carole A Estabrooks, Marlene A Reimer, Phyllis Giovannetti, Kathryn Hyndman, Sonia Acorn
Health Policy 2003, 63 (3): 311-21
Workplace violence is a significant and widespread public health concern among health care workers, including nurses. With growing awareness of how practice environments influence patient outcomes and the retention of health professionals, it is timely to consider the impact of workplace violence in hospitals. Registered nurses in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada were surveyed on their experiences of violence in the workplace over the last five shifts. Our results suggest that nurses are experiencing many incidences of violence in a given work week, particularly in the emergency, psychiatric, and medical-surgical settings. Most violent acts are perpetrated by patients, but there is also a significant portion of violence and abuse committed by hospital co-workers, particularly emotional abuse and sexual harassment. Our results also indicate that the majority of workplace violence is not reported. We suggest that using the Broken Windows theory might be a useful tool to conceptualize why workplace violence occurs, and that this framework be used to begin to develop new violence prevention policies and strategies.

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