Workplace violence against medical staff in healthcare facilities in Barbados

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Abstract

Background

Anecdotal evidence suggests increasing workplace violence against healthcare workers in the Caribbean, but the prevalence is largely undocumented.

Aims

To determine the prevalence of workplace violence reported by medical staff at primary care clinics in Barbados.

Methods

A study utilizing a modified version of the standard World Health Organization Workplace Violence Questionnaire, designed to assess the incidence, types and features of workplace violence. All nursing and physician staff on duty at the island’s eight primary care clinics during the study period were invited to participate.

Results

Of the 102 respondents (72% response rate), 63% of nursing and physician staff at the polyclinics in Barbados reported at least one episode of violence in the past year. The majority reported being exposed to verbal abuse (60%) and 19% reported being exposed to bullying. Seven percent of the staff reported incidents of sexual harassment, 3% physical violence and another 3% reported racial harassment. Patients emerged as the main perpetrators of violence (64%). Logistic regression showed statistically significant associations between gender and workplace violence. Females and nurses were more predisposed to experience violent incidents than males and physicians.

Conclusions

Over a half of medical staff surveyed reported experiencing some type of violence in the past year, female gender being a significant predictor of abuse. Adequate documentation and implementing clear policies and violence prevention programmes in health institutions are crucial steps towards addressing this issue.

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