Background. Violence at work is one of the major concerns in health care activities. Objective. This study aimed at identifying the prevalence of physical and non-physical violence in a general health care unit in Italy and assessing the relationship between violence and psychosocial factors, so providing a basis for appropriate intervention. Design. Questionnaire-based cross-sectional surveys conducted three times. Methods. All health care workers of a local sanitary unit who were exposed to occupational risks and therefore subjected to medical surveillance at the workplace, were invited to compile a questionnaire containing single item measures concerning workplace violence. The response rate was 75% in 2005, 71% in 2007, and 94% in 2009. The 2009 questionnaire contained the VIF (Violent Incident Form), for the registration of violent incidents, the DCS (demand/control/support) model for job strain, the Colquitt’s 20 items questionnaire for perceived organizational justice, and the GHQ-12 general health questionnaire for the assessment of mental health. Results. One out of 10 workers reported to have been physically assaulted, and one out of three to be harassed at work during the preceding year, in 2009 and in previous surveys. Nurses and physicians were the most exposed jobs,whereas psychiatric, home care and first aid department were the most hazardous services. Workers exposed to non-physical violence had high job strain, low support, low perceived organizational justice, and high psychological distress. Conclusion. Our study shows that health care workers in Italian local health care unit are exposed to violence, and such abuse has detrimental effects. Participatory, multi-level programs are needed to counteract workplace violence and its effects.
- aggression, violence at the workplace, health care workers, assault, psychological trauma, post-traumatic stress, victim, organizational justice, work stress, social support.