Table 6

The views of Justice Health employees on the factors that influence reporting of incidents of workplace violence1
Theme Participant quote
Verbal abuse is part of the job
1. Some staff felt that verbal abuse was understandable given the nature of incarceration and therefore preferred to handle this form of abuse informally. “As I was aware that the verbal abuse was a reflection of the patient’s frustration with systems and therefore not really directed at me”“I felt no need to report the incident as the outburst was from a patient. The anger was purely associated with their current situation, not because of something I did”
2. Some did not consider verbal abuse serious enough to report. These staff felt that only threats to their physical safety warranted reporting. “I did not consider that the incident warranted recording in IIMS (Incident Information Management System (IIMS)). I did not feel my safety was at risk”“You get used to verbal abuse. I would only report physical violence”
3. Some staff felt that verbal abuse occurred regularly and, as a result, they had become desensitised to it and did not think about reporting it. “Verbal abuse is not uncommon in this environment and is quietly forgotten”“I’m desensitised to moderate forms of verbal abuse”
Discontent with the management of incidents of workplace violence
1. Some staff felt that there was poor follow up of recorded incidents. “There was no feedback on the report, no action taken. Does anyone read them? It’s a waste of my time”“The patients and DCS staff (employees of Corrective Services NSW) never get spoken to. There are no ramifications. If there are, we never get feedback”
2. Some staff reported that they were discouraged from reporting an incident involving a correctional officer by their line manager. “We are not allowed to (report an incident in IIMS) if it involves an officer. We have been told by upper management not to, never”“I brought up my problems with management and I found that they supported non-Justice Health employees more than their own”
3. Some were concerned that they would be disciplined by their manager if they reported an incident. “Although IIMS is supposed to be a system for improving incidents and not a forum for punishment, I find that in most instances it’s the latter. Therefore, if I don’t report it, there are no repercussions for me”“Too much trouble, and can lead to more troubles if you report an officer”
Practical barriers to reporting
1. Some staff mentioned that they were busy undertaking work duties and therefore did not have the time to complete the IIMS form, which they considered time consuming. “IIMS takes too long to complete and is cumbersome. Takes too long in a busy workplace”“The workload is too heavy to spend the time to fill in IIMS, and I’m not spending my own time to fill it in”
2. Some were not clear on the differing functions of IIMS and formal grievance procedures (the latter are used to address horizontal violence). “No point reporting on IIMS when it’s the manager yelling. She has access to IIMS”“Passive aggressive behaviour is hard to report on IIMS. Things like being left off team emails, not included in decision making processes, left feeling alone, ostracized does not report well on IIMS”

1. Data source: Cashmore AW, Indig D, Hampton SE, Hegney DG, Jalaludin BB: Workplace abuse among correctional health professionals in New South Wales, Australia. Australian Health Review 2012, 36:184–190.

Cashmore et al.

Cashmore et al. BMC Health Services Research 2012 12:245   doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-245

Open Data