Open Access Research article

The prospective effects of workplace violence on physicians’ job satisfaction and turnover intentions: the buffering effect of job control

Tarja Heponiemi1*, Anne Kouvonen23, Marianna Virtanen4, Jukka Vänskä5 and Marko Elovainio1

Author Affiliations

1 National Institute for Health and Welfare, P.O. Box 30, Helsinki 00271, Finland

2 School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK

3 UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health (NI), Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK

4 Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland

5 Finnish Medical Association, Helsinki, Finland

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:19  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-19

Published: 17 January 2014



Health care professionals, including physicians, are at high risk of encountering workplace violence. At the same time physician turnover is an increasing problem that threatens the functioning of the health care sector worldwide. The present study examined the prospective associations of work-related physical violence and bullying with physicians’ turnover intentions and job satisfaction. In addition, we tested whether job control would modify these associations.


The present study was a 4-year longitudinal survey study, with data gathered in 2006 and 2010.The present sample included 1515 (61% women) Finnish physicians aged 25–63 years at baseline. Analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) were conducted while adjusting for gender, age, baseline levels, specialisation status, and employment sector.


The results of covariance analyses showed that physical violence led to increased physician turnover intentions and that both bullying and physical violence led to reduced physician job satisfaction even after adjustments. We also found that opportunities for job control were able to alleviate the increase in turnover intentions resulting from bullying.


Our results suggest that workplace violence is an extensive problem in the health care sector and may lead to increased turnover and job dissatisfaction. Thus, health care organisations should approach this problem through different means, for example, by giving health care employees more opportunities to control their own work.

Job control; Work-related violence; Psychosocial resources; Intentions to quit; Physicians