The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
MH, the principal investigator, conceptualized the study design and data collection tool. AH pilot tested and contributed to finalising the survey. Both authors collected, enterd, and analysed the data. MH wrote the manuscript draft in consultation with AH. Both authors finalized the manuscript and approved it.
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.