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Workplace violence against emergency health care workers: What Strategies do Workers use?

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posted on 26.05.2022, 05:39 authored by Evelien SpeltenEvelien Spelten, Julia Van-VuurenJulia Van-Vuuren, P O’Meara, Brodie ThomasBrodie Thomas, M Grenier, R Ferron, J Helmer, G Agarwal
Background: Workplace violence by patients and bystanders against health care workers, is a major problem, for workers, organizations, patients, and society. It is estimated to affect up to 95% of health care workers. Emergency health care workers experience very high levels of workplace violence, with one study finding that paramedics had nearly triple the odds of experiencing physical and verbal violence. Many interventions have been developed, ranging from zero-tolerance approaches to engaging with the violent perpetrator. Unfortunately, as a recent Cochrane review showed, there is no evidence that any of these interventions work in reducing or minimizing violence. To design better interventions to prevent and minimize workplace violence, more information is needed on those strategies emergency health care workers currently use to prevent or minimize violence. The objective of the study was to identify and discuss strategies used by prehospital emergency health care workers, in response to violence and aggression from patients and bystanders. Mapping the strategies used and their perceived usefulness will inform the development of tailored interventions to reduce the risk of serious harm to health care workers. In this study the following research questions were addressed: (1) What strategies do prehospital emergency health care workers utilize against workplace violence from patients or bystanders? (2) What is their experience with these strategies? Methods: Five focus groups with paramedics and dispatchers were held at different urban and rural locations in Canada. The focus group responses were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: It became apparent that emergency healthcare workers use a variety of strategies when dealing with violent patients or bystanders. Most strategies, other than generic de-escalation techniques, reflect a reliance on the systems the workers work with and within. Conclusion: The study results support the move away from focusing on the individual worker, who is the victim, to a systems-based approach to help reduce and minimize violence against health care workers. For this to be effective, system-based strategies need to be implemented and supported in healthcare organizations and legitimized through professional bodies, unions, public policies, and regulations.

Funding

This project was undertaken as part of an international research visit and was in part funded by an Outside Study Program travel grant from La Trobe University.

History

Publication Date

01/12/2022

Journal

BMC Emergency Medicine

Volume

22

Issue

1

Article Number

ARTN 78

Pagination

11p.

Publisher

BMC

ISSN

1471-227X

Rights Statement

© The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.