Determinants of aggression against all health care workers in a large-sized university hospital [2020]

Background
The paper aims to describe the 3-year incidence (2015/17) of aggressive acts against all healthcare workers to identify risk factors associated to violence among a variety of demographic and professional determinants of assaulted, and risk factors related to the circumstances surrounding these events.

Methods
A retrospective observational study of all 10,970 health workers in a large-sized Italian university hospital was performed.

The data, obtained from the “Aggression Reporting Form”, which must be completed by assaulted workers within 72 h of aggression, were collected for the following domains: worker assaulted (sex, age class, years worked); profession (nurses, medical doctors, non-medical support staff, administrative staff, midwives); aggressive acts (activity type during aggressive acts, season, time and location of aggressive acts); and type of aggressive acts (verbal, non-verbal, consequences, aggressors).

Results
Three hundred sixty-four (3.3%) workers experienced almost one aggression. The majority of the assaulted workers were female (77.5%), had worked for 6/15 years and were Nurses (64.3%). The majority of aggressive acts occurred during assistance and patient care (38.2%), in the spring and during the afternoon/morning shifts and took place in locations where patients were present (47.3%). The most prevalent aggression type was verbal (76.9%). The patient was the most common aggressor (46.7%). 56% of those assaulted experienced interruptions in their work.

Being female, being < 50 years of age, having worked for 6–15 years were significant risk factors for aggression. Midwives suffered the highest risk of experiencing aggression (RR = 12.95).

The risk analysis showed that non-verbally aggressive acts were related to assistance and patient care with respect to activity type, to the presence of patients and during the spring and afternoon/evening.

Conclusions
The findings suggest the parallel use of future qualitative studies to clarify the motivation behind aggression. These suggestions are needed for the implementation of additional adequate prevention strategies on either an organizational or a personal level.

Elena Viottini, Gianfranco Politano, Giulio Fornero, Pier Luigi Pavanelli, Paola Borelli, Marco Bonaudo & Maria Michela Gianino
BMC Health Services Research volume 20, Article number: 215 (2020)
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