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      Workplace violence towards workers in the emergency departments of Palestinian hospitals: a cross-sectional study

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          Workplace violence (WPV) in hospital emergency departments (EDs) is a common problem. The objective of this study was to assess the characteristics (level and type), associated risk factors, causes, and consequences of WPV against workers in Palestinian EDs.


          A cross-sectional study was conducted in 14 out of the available 39 EDs in Palestine: 8 from the West Bank and 6 from the Gaza Strip. Data were collected using a self-administered questionnaire between July–September 2013. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to examine risk factors associated with exposure to WPV.


          A total of 444 participants (response rate 74.5%): 161 (32.0%) nurses, 142 (32%) physicians, and 141 (31.7%) administrative personnel. The majority (76.1%) experienced a type of WPV in the past 12 months: 35.6% exposed to physical and 71.2% to non-physical assaults (69.8% verbal abuses, 48.4% threats, and 8.6% sexual harassments). Perpetrators of physical and non-physical violence were mainly patients’ families/visitors (85.4% and 79.5%, respectively). Waiting time, lack of prevention measures, and unmet expectations of patients and their families are the main reasons for WPV. The multivariate regression analysis showed that younger personnel (OR = 2.29 CI 95% 1.309–4.036), clinicians (nurses and physicians) (OR = 1.65 CI 95% 0.979–2.797) comparing with administrative, and less experienced ED personnel (OR = 2.39 CI 95% 1.141–5.006) are significantly at higher risk of exposure to WPV ( P < 0.05). Low level (40%) of violence reporting is evident, largely attributed to not enough actions being taken and fear of consequences. Violence has been shown to have considerable consequences for workers’ well-being, patient care, and job retention.


          Violence against workers in Palestinian EDs is highly common. The effects of violence are considerable. Multiple factors cause violence; however, EDs’ internal-system-related factors are the most amenable to change. Attention should be given to strengthening violence prevention policy and measures and improving incident-reporting system.

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          Most cited references 22

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          Reducing the adverse consequences of workplace aggression and violence: the buffering effects of organizational support.

          This study examined the buffering effects of 2 types of organizational support--instrumental and informational--on the relationships between workplace violence/aggression and both personal and organizational outcomes. Based on data from 225 employees in a health care setting, a series of moderated multiple regression analyses demonstrated that organizational support moderated the effects of physical violence, vicariously experienced violence, and psychological aggression on emotional well-being, somatic health, and job-related affect, but not on fear of future workplace violence and job neglect. These findings have implications for both research and intervention related to workplace violence.
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            Violence against emergency department workers.

            The purpose of this study was to describe the violence experienced by Emergency Department (ED) workers from patients and visitors during the 6 months before the survey. Two hundred forty-two employees at five hospitals who came in direct contact with patients or visitors completed a survey. The study found that most workers had been verbally harassed by patients or visitors at least once. There were at least 319 assaults by patients and 10 assaults by visitors. Sixty-five percent of subjects assaulted stated that they did not report the assault to hospital authorities. Sixty-four percent of subjects had not had any violence prevention training during the previous 12 months. There were significant relationships among violent experiences, feelings of safety, and job satisfaction. ED workers are at high risk for violence, and efforts are needed to decrease the incidence of violence. Such efforts are likely to have a positive impact on job satisfaction and retention of ED workers.
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              Aggression and violence in health care professions.

              Although violence is increasing in most workplaces, it has become a significant problem in health care professions. Not only has the number of incidents increased but also the severity of the impact has caused profound traumatic effects on the primary, secondary and tertiary victims. More health care professionals than ever are suffering from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Addressing the problem of violence in the workplace has been exacerbated by a lack of a clear definition of what constitutes aggression and violence. As a result, some administrators have been slow to commit resources to prevent further incidents and mitigate the impact. This article describes the magnitude of the problem from both an academic research and an operational perspective. A definition is presented as an initial step towards standardizing the research, and establishing an appropriate baseline upon which intervention policies and procedures can be created. This benchmark will also help to encourage empirical research into aggression and violence in health care professions and other professions. Further research needs to be conducted to create a comprehensive instrument that can more accurately measure the range of incidents and the severity of the impact.

                Author and article information

                Hum Resour Health
                Hum Resour Health
                Human Resources for Health
                BioMed Central (London )
                7 May 2015
                7 May 2015
                : 13
                [ ]School of Public Health, Al-Quds University, Jerusalem, occupied Palestinian territory
                [ ]School of Public Health, Al-Quds University, Gaza, Palestine
                © Hamdan and Abu Hamra; licensee BioMed Central. 2015

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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                Health & Social care

                workplace violence, effects, causes, risk factors, emergency departments


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