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Development of a Data Collection Instrument for Violent Patient Encounters against Healthcare Workers

  • Author(s): Kowalenko, Terry
  • Hauff, Samantha R
  • Morden, Peter C
  • Smith, Barbara
  • et al.
Abstract

Introduction: Healthcare and social workers have the highest incidence of workplace violence of any industry. Assaults toward healthcare workers account for nearly half of all nonfatal injuries from occupational violence. Our goal was to develop and evaluate an instrument for prospective collection of data relevant to emergency department (ED) violence against healthcare workers.

Methods: Participants at a high-volume tertiary care center were shown 11 vignettes portraying verbal and physical assaults and responded to a survey developed by the research team and piloted by ED personnel addressing the type and severity of violence portrayed. Demographic and employment groups were compared using the independent-samples Mann-Whitney U Test.

Results: There were 193 participants (91 male). We found few statistical differences when comparing occupational and gender groups. Males assigned higher severity scores to acts of verbal violence versus females (mean M,F=3.08, 2.70; p<0.001). While not achieving statistical significance, subgroup analysis revealed that attending physicians rated acts of verbal violence higher than resident physicians, and nurses assigned higher severity scores to acts of sexual, verbal, and physical violence versus their physician counterparts.

Conclusion: This survey instrument is the first tool shown to be accurate and reliable in characterizing acts of violence in the ED across all demographic and employment groups using filmed vignettes of violent acts. Gender and occupation of ED workers does not appear to play a significant role in perception of severity workplace violence. [West J Emerg Med. 2012;13(5):429-433.]

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