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Keywords:

  • Cyprus;
  • emergency department;
  • health professionals;
  • patient;
  • survey;
  • workplace violence

Aims and objectives

To identify perceived prevalence, characteristics, precipitating factors and suggestions for improving workplace violence in all nine public emergency departments in the Cyprus Republic.

Background

Workplace violence is a common phenomenon in emergency departments, but little is known about this phenomenon in Cyprus.

Design

A retrospective cross-sectional survey.

Methods

Two hundred and twenty of 365 emergency nurses (85·7%) and doctors (14·3%) participated in this study, of which 62% were female. Data were collected via a Greek language version of the Violent Incident Form. Additional questions examined perceived frequencies, encouragement for reporting, satisfaction with actions taken and suggestions for improvement. Descriptive analysis, chi-square tests and multiple logistic regression analyses were used to describe and associate characteristics with workplace prevalence.

Results

During the previous 12 months, the vast majority of nurses and doctors (76·2%) were exposed to verbal abuse (88·8%), mainly by relatives or friends of the patient (59·1%). Relatively inexperienced clinicians were at greater risk. Waiting time was identified as the most significant organisational factor. Alcohol intoxication, substance abuse and mental illness were individual factors for workplace violence. Severe underreporting (72·2%) and a belief that workplace violence is part of the work (74·1%) were also identified. Workplace violence was highly correlated with several factors, including a lack of encouragement for reporting, a feeling in advance that a violent incident was about to happen and having to handle the incident personally. Suggestions for improvement included more security measures (26·7%) and public education about the proper use of emergency services (15·2%).

Conclusion

Verbal abuse is common in Cypriot emergency departments, but clinicians are increasingly worried about physical assaults.

Relevance to clinical practice

Training, security policies, encouragement of reporting and support for staff after a violent incident are needed. Future research should try to include the perpetrator's viewpoint.