Doctors subjects of patients' verbal, physical aggression

September 17, 2012
Doctors subjects of patients' verbal, physical aggression
New research shows that younger and hospital-based doctors are more vulnerable to workplace aggression.

More than 70 per cent of doctors faced verbal or written aggression and almost a third confronted physical aggression in the workplace over a 12-month period, according to new research.

In a study published today in the , Monash University researchers undertook an Australian-first survey of more than 9400 clinical to determine the prevalence of aggression directed towards them by patients, patients' families and carers, co-workers and others external to the workplace.

Danny Hills and Associate Professor Catherine Joyce from the University's Department of Epidemiology and , and Emeritus Professor John Humphreys from the School of Rural Health, surveyed (GPs) and GP registrars, specialists, hospital non-specialists and specialists-in-training between March 2010 and June 2011.

Mr Hills, a doctoral scholar, said data analysis clearly revealed that certain groups were more vulnerable to aggression.

"We found that younger and hospital-based clinicians were more likely to have experienced aggression," Mr Hills said. 

"Hospitalised patients are likely to be suffering more severe conditions, and consequently be highly distressed, compared to those visiting GPs, so that finding is not surprising."

"Younger will necessarily be less experienced in aggression minimisation strategies compared with more senior clinicians. They may also be afforded a lower professional status and associated levels of respect."

Results indicated that GPs who had gained their qualifications overseas were also more likely to have been subject to aggression from patients.

Previous research suggested that cultural or communication issues may play a role in aggression directed towards international medical graduates. The researchers urged further research into this phenomenon due to the importance of these doctors to the Australian health system.

Mr Hills said workplace aggression had important implications both on the individual level for doctors, and more broadly for the medical workforce. 

"Previous research has found that clinicians who were exposed to aggression reported lowered confidence or enthusiasm for their work, and an increase in medical errors," Mr Hills said.

"Ultimately, if this workplace is not appropriately addressed, especially in the cases of international graduates and younger clinicians, it may contribute to difficulties in recruiting and retaining doctors."

Explore further: Heavy drinking linked to more frequent and more severe aggression in relationships

Related Stories

Heavy drinking linked to more frequent and more severe aggression in relationships

July 5, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Drinking by one or both partners increases levels of severity, anger and fear reported by victims of intimate partner aggression, according to a new study by University of Otago researchers.

Recommended for you

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible, study shows

November 17, 2017
Eleven days after Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in new state-of-the-art racing flats known as "4%s," University of Colorado Boulder researchers have published the study that inspired the shoes' ...

Vaping while pregnant could cause craniofacial birth defects, study shows

November 16, 2017
Using e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects of the oral cavity and face, according to a recent Virginia Commonwealth University study.

Study: For older women, every movement matters

November 16, 2017
Folding your laundry or doing the dishes might not be the most enjoyable parts of your day. But simple activities like these may help prolong your life, according to the findings of a new study in older women led by the University ...

When vegetables are closer in price to chips, people eat healthier, study finds

November 16, 2017
When healthier food, like vegetables and dairy products, is pricier compared to unhealthy items, like salty snacks and sugary sweets, Americans are significantly less likely to have a high-quality diet, a new Drexel University ...

Children's exposure to secondhand smoke may be vastly underestimated by parents

November 15, 2017
Four out of 10 children in the US are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the American Heart Association. A new Tel Aviv University study suggests that parents who smoke mistakenly rely on their own physical senses ...

Serious health risks associated with energy drinks

November 15, 2017
A new review of current scientific knowledge on energy drinks finds their advertised short-term benefits can be outweighed by serious health risks—which include risk-seeking behavior, mental health problems, increased blood ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.