Objectives: Violence at work (WV) is an important occupational hazard for health care workers (HCWs). A number of surveys addressing the causes and effects of WV have shown that it is associated with work-related stress. However, it is not clear what direction this relationship takes, that is, whether job strain facilitates aggression against HCWs or WV is the cause of job strain. Methods: From 2003 to 2009, HCWs from a public health care unit were asked to self-assess their level of work-related stress and to report aggression that occurred in the 12-month period preceding their routine medical examination. In 2009, physical and mental health and job satisfaction were also assessed. A total of 698 out of 723 HCWs (96.5%) completed the study. Findings: Job strain and lack of social support were predictors of the occurrence of nonphysical aggression during the ensuing year. HCWs who experienced WV reported high strain and low support at work in the following year. The experience of nonphysical violence and a prolonged state of strain and social isolation were significant predictors of psychological problems and bad health at follow-up. Conclusions and Implications: The relationship between work-related distress and WV is bidirectional. The monitoring of workers through questionnaires distributed before their periodic examination is a simple and effective way of studying WV and monitoring distress. Clinical Relevance: The findings of the present study may facilitate the subsequent design of participatory intervention for the prevention of violence in healthcare facilities. This should always be accompanied by measures designed to reduce strain and improve social support.
- Cause-effect, psychosocial factors, violence, workplace, occupational exposure, job strain, mental health