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92% of Health Workers Experienced or Witnessed Workplace Violence Last Month

92% of Health Workers Experienced or Witnessed Workplace Violence Last Month

Perceptyx research reveals frequency of physical and verbal assaults against healthcare staff 

TEMECULA, Calif., May 4, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A new survey of healthcare workers by employee listening leader, Perceptyx, has revealed that nine in ten have experienced (or been in close proximity to) violence from a patient or a patient’s caregiver in the past month. Three in four have encountered both verbal and physical assaults in the month, and nearly half of workers needed to call for security or another coworker to assist.

Physical violence is most prevalent in hospitals and long-term care facilities, but the seriousness varies. Hospital staff experience the most intense incidents of physical violence, but those in long-term care facilities experience them more frequently. More than half of long-term care workers have been exposed to a physical assault in the last month, with 15% of those being serious enough to warrant a call for help. This compares with four in ten hospital workers experiencing a physical attack, but alarmingly, half of those required intervention from another party.

Nurses in hospitals are the most likely of all healthcare employees to be exposed to violence (physical or verbal) at work, with 96% experiencing an instance in the past month. The magnitude of incidents is also greater for this group: four in five hospital nurses have had to call a coworker or security because they feel unsafe – twice as many as workers in other roles.

After nurses, healthcare support workers, such as certified nursing assistants or other aides, are the most likely to encounter violence: 94% of this group has faced an assault in the past month.

The study also showed that male and female health workers are equally as likely to have experienced a violent incident in the past month. But women in healthcare are 20% more likely to have had an incident that required help from security or another colleague.

Perceptyx surveyed workers in clinical and support roles across hospitals, outpatient centers, labs, nursing homes, and home health settings. The findings underline results from a National Nurses United survey in April 2022 which showed that nurses are experiencing more workplace violence than ever. Another recent study showed that even just being exposed to violence in the workplace had significant effects – nurses were two to four times more likely to report high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and burnout. 

“It’s no secret that healthcare workers are burning out from long hours, lack of staff and the emotional stress of the pandemic - and that violence in healthcare settings is on the rise,” said Emily Killham, Director of Research and Insights at Perceptyx. “But this research shows just how widespread the issue is. It’s not limited to just nurses in hospitals - it’s affecting every corner of the profession. And, when you include workers who have witnessed violence as well as those who have experienced attacks, it’s easy to see just how much violence has become a facet of daily work in the healthcare industry. It’s a complex issue that won’t be solved with broad-sweep policies. It requires those in charge to have a deep understanding of the specific factors driving violence, gleaned from listening intently to the workers interfacing with patients.”

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