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Open Access Research article

Workplace violence against physicians and nurses in Palestinian public hospitals: a cross-sectional study

Mohamad Kitaneh and Motasem Hamdan*

Author Affiliations

Faculty of Public Health, Al-Quds University, Jerusalem, P.O.Box 51000, occupied Palestinian territory

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BMC Health Services Research 2012, 12:469  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-469

Published: 20 December 2012

Abstract

Background

Violence against healthcare workers in Palestinian hospitals is common. However, this issue is under researched and little evidence exists. The aim of this study was to assess the incidence, magnitude, consequences and possible risk factors for workplace violence against nurses and physicians working in public Palestinian hospitals.

Methods

A cross-sectional approach was employed. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data on different aspects of workplace violence against physicians and nurses in five public hospitals between June and July 2011. The questionnaires were distributed to a stratified proportional random sample of 271 physicians and nurses, of which 240 (88.7%) were adequately completed. Pearson’s chi-square analysis was used to test the differences in exposure to physical and non-physical violence according to respondents’ characteristics. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were used to assess potential associations between exposure to violence (yes/no) and the respondents’ characteristics using logistic regression model.

Results

The majority of respondents (80.4%) reported exposure to violence in the previous 12 months; 20.8% physical and 59.6% non-physical. No statistical difference in exposure to violence between physicians and nurses was observed. Males’ significantly experienced higher exposure to physical violence in comparison with females. Logistic regression analysis indicated that less experienced (OR: 8.03; 95% CI 3.91-16.47), and a lower level of education (OR: 3; 95% CI 1.29-6.67) among respondents meant they were more likely to be victims of workplace violence than their counterparts. The assailants were mostly the patients' relatives or visitors, followed by the patients themselves, and co-workers. Consequences of both physical and non-physical violence were considerable. Only half of victims received any type of treatment. Non-reporting of violence was a concern, main reasons were lack of incident reporting policy/procedure and management support, previous experience of no action taken, and fear of the consequences.

Conclusions

Healthcare workers are at comparably high risk of violent incidents in Palestinian public hospitals. Decision makers need to be aware of the causes and potential consequences of such events. There is a need for intervention to protect health workers and provide safer hospital workplaces environment. The results can inform developing proper policy and safety measures.

Keywords:
Workplace violence; Hospitals; Health care workers; Nurses and physicians; Palestine