Occupational injury among hospital patient-care workers: What is the association with workplace verbal abuse?

Authors

  • Erika L. Sabbath ScD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, Cambridge, Massachusetts
    • Correspondence to: Erika L. Sabbath, ScD, Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, 9 Bow Street, Cambridge, MA 02138. E-mail: esabbath@hsph.harvard.edu

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  • David A. Hurtado ScD,

    1. Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Cassandra A. Okechukwu ScD, MSN,

    1. Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Sara L. Tamers PhD, MPH,

    1. Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. Center for Community-Based Research, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Candace Nelson ScD,

    1. Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Seung-Sup Kim MD, ScD,

    1. Department of Healthcare Management, Korea University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
    2. Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, Washington, District of Columbia
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  • Gregory Wagner MD,

    1. Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Washington, District of Columbia
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  • Glorian Sorenson PhD, MPH

    1. Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. Center for Community-Based Research, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Disclosure Statement: The authors report no conflicts of interests.

Abstract

Objective

To test the association between workplace abuse exposure and injury risk among hospital workers. We hypothesized that exposed workers would have higher injury rates than unexposed workers.

Methods

Survey of direct-care workers (n = 1,497) in two hospitals. Exposure to workplace abuse was assessed through self-report; occupational injury reports were extracted from employee records. We tested associations between non-physical workplace violence and injury using log-binomial regression and multilevel modeling.

Results

Adjusted prevalence ratio (PR) for injury associated with being yelled at was 1.52 (95% CI 1.19, 1.95); for experiencing hostile/offensive gestures 1.43 (1.11, 1.82); and for being sworn at 1.41 (1.09, 1.81). In analyses by injury subtypes, musculoskeletal injuries were more strongly associated with abuse than were acute traumatic injuries. Associations operated on group and individual levels and were most consistently associated with abuse perpetrated by patients.

Conclusion

Exposure to workplace abuse may be a risk factor for injuries among hospital workers. Am. J. Ind. Med. 57:222–232, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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