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Date of Graduation
Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at work (US Department of Labor, 2023). There are a handful of different types of workplace violence that include but are not limited to physical violence, verbal abuse and threats, sexual harassment, and psychological trauma (US Department of Labor, 2023). Workplace violence, a multifaceted phenomenon, is not a new concern, but its pervasiveness and intensity in healthcare settings have reached alarming proportions in recent years. In a meta-analysis, it was noted that workplace violence against healthcare workers of any kind was up forty-three percent during the recent years of the pandemic (Zhang et al., 2023). In addition, pandemic-related workplace violence increased substantially which made any covid-19 healthcare employee at a higher risk of physical and verbal violence (Zhang et al., 2023). The ramifications of this crisis are profound, impacting not only the mental and physical well-being of healthcare workers but also the quality of patient care and the very essence of the healthcare mission.
This multifaceted phenomenon, workplace violence, exists in various forms each with its own distressing impact on individuals within the work environment. Physical abuse entails any intentional act causing injury, trauma, bodily harm, or other physical suffering to another person by way of bodily contact (US Department of Labor, 2023). This includes acts like hitting, kicking, pushing, biting, choking, throwing objects, or resorting to weapons – actions that leave visible scars and often profound emotional wounds. Verbal abuse and threats, on the other hand, represent a psychological assault through the use of language, whether oral, gestured, or written (US Department of Labor, 2023). This form of violence involves a spectrum of actions from harassment and labeling to insults, scolding, rebuking, or the unsettling intensity of excessive yelling. Verbal abuse and threats can corrode an individual's self-esteem and psychological well-being, creating an environment laden with fear and tension (US Department of Labor, 2023). Harassment, a wide-ranging category of offensive behaviors, stands as another facet of workplace violence. Characterized by its demeaning, humiliating, and intimidating nature, harassment takes various forms that defy social and moral reasonableness (US Department of Labor, 2023). Sexual harassment is a pernicious subtype of workplace harassment that encompasses unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and various forms of verbal or physical harassment with a sexual nature, all of which occur within the workplace. (US EEOC, 2023). It not only violates personal boundaries but also undermines the fundamental principles of respect, dignity, and equality in the workplace. Lastly, psychological trauma emerges as a subtle yet deeply unsettling facet of workplace violence. It involves a form of vexatious behavior that involves repeated hostile and unwanted words, behavior, or actions that are painful, hurtful, annoying, humiliating, or insulting (Institute national de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS), 2023). Understanding the intricate facets of workplace violence, it becomes evident that its impact extends beyond the physical realm, reaching deep into the psychological and emotional spheres of those affected.
Evident research findings suggest workplace violence in healthcare has become a significant and serious concern. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare and social service, workers are five times more likely to experience a workplace violence injury than workers in other sectors, underscoring the concern for the safety of healthcare workers at this time (Workplace Violence in Nursing, 2022). An additional survey done by the American Nurses Association concluded that one in four nurses have reported being physically assaulted at work (Workplace Violence in Nursing, 2022). Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic introduced a distressing upswing in workplace violence, a trend that, regrettably, has not abated significantly since the pandemic’s peak. Research indicates that during the pandemic, the prevalence of workplace violence, including physical and verbal violence, escalated substantially as noted earlier. However, from mid-pandemic to late pandemic, the incidents of workplace violence still rose significantly, with rates of physical violence increasing by 12-33% and verbal violence surging by 45-58% (Zhang et al., 2023). While the pandemic may have initially exacerbated workplace violence rates in healthcare settings, the fact the violence rates continue to rise even as pandemic numbers decrease underscores the imperative to address these matters.
Given my personal experience as a healthcare worker who has directly encountered multiple occasions of workplace violence, I hold a deep and unwavering commitment to improving the safety for healthcare personnel. Given the recognizable rise in workplace violence within healthcare settings, to ultimately address this concern comprehensively, this research endeavors to examine existing solutions by means of a survey administered to local healthcare professionals. This approach aims to identify the prevalence of workplace violence and the perceived deficiencies in current safety protocols, thereby identifying ways of fostering a more secure environment for healthcare personnel.
Osgood, Nichole, "Violence Against Healthcare Workers" (2023). Honors Theses. 3749.
Honors Thesis-Open Access