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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Health Services Research 1/2018

The Staff Observation Aggression Scale – Revised (SOAS-R) – adjustment and validation for emergency primary health care

BMC Health Services Research > Ausgabe 1/2018
Tone Morken, Valborg Baste, Grethe E. Johnsen, Knut Rypdal, Tom Palmstierna, Ingrid Hjulstad Johansen
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12913-018-3157-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Many emergency primary health care workers experience aggressive behaviour from patients or visitors. Simple incident-reporting procedures exist for inpatient, psychiatric care, but a similar and simple incident-report for other health care settings is lacking. The aim was to adjust a pre-existing form for reporting aggressive incidents in a psychiatric inpatient setting to the emergency primary health care settings. We also wanted to assess the validity of the severity scores in emergency primary health care.


The Staff Observation Scale - Revised (SOAS-R) was adjusted to create a pilot version of the Staff Observation Scale – Revised Emergency (SOAS-RE). A Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) was added to the form to judge the severity of the incident. Data for validation of the pilot version of SOAS-RE were collected from ten casualty clinics in Norway during 12 months. Variance analysis was used to test gender and age differences. Linear regression analysis was performed to evaluate the relative impact that each of the five SOAS-RE columns had on the VAS score. The association between SOAS-RE severity score and VAS severity score was calculated by the Pearson correlation coefficient.


The SOAS-R was adjusted to emergency primary health care, refined and called The Staff Observation Aggression Scale - Revised Emergency (SOAS-RE). A total of 350 SOAS-RE forms were collected from the casualty clinics, but due to missing data, 291 forms were included in the analysis. SOAS-RE scores ranged from 1 to 22. The mean total severity score of SOAS-RE was 10.0 (standard deviation (SD) =4.1) and the mean VAS score was 45.4 (SD = 26.7). We found a significant correlation of 0.45 between the SOAS-RE total severity scores and the VAS severity ratings. The linear regression analysis showed that individually each of the categories, which described the incident, had a low impact on the VAS score.


The SOAS-RE seems to be a useful instrument for research, incident-recording and management of incidents in emergency primary care. The moderate correlation between SOAS-RE severity score and the VAS severity score shows that application of both the severity ratings is valuable to follow-up of workers affected by workplace violence.
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