Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Workplace aggression prevention and minimisation in Australian clinical medical practice settings – a national study

Danny J. Hills A C , Catherine M. Joyce A and John S. Humphreys B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Level 6, Alfred Centre, 99 Commercial Road, Melbourne, Vic. 3004, Australia. Email: catherine.joyce@monash.edu

B School of Rural Health, Monash University, PO Box 666, Bendigo, Vic. 3552, Australia. Email: john.humphreys@monash.edu

C Corresponding author. Email: danny.hills@monash.edu

Australian Health Review 37(5) 607-613 https://doi.org/10.1071/AH13149
Submitted: 15 January 2013  Accepted: 2 August 2013   Published: 11 October 2013

Abstract

Introduction This report describes the extent to which 12 workplace aggression prevention and minimisation actions have been implemented in Australian clinical medical practice settings.

Methods Using a cross-sectional, self-report survey conducted as part of a national longitudinal study of the Australian medical workforce, differences in the proportions of medical clinicians reporting the implementation of 12 aggression prevention and minimisation actions in their main workplace were determined.

Results Only one-third of aggression prevention and minimisation actions achieved point-prevalence rates of greater than 60%, including aggression policies and protocols (65.7%) and incident reporting systems (68.2%). Overall, lower point-prevalence rates were detected for general practitioners and specialists compared with hospital non-specialists and specialists in training, largely reflecting those for doctors mainly working in private rooms compared with public hospitals. Key environmental interventions had relatively low point-prevalence overall, including duress alarms and optimised clinician escape in consulting and treatment areas, and after-hours and off-site safety strategies.

Conclusions More widespread adoption of aggression prevention and minimisation measures in medical practice settings is required. Specific legislative and accreditation provisions and funding support may provide the necessary impetus for reform. Further studies can enhance the evidence base on the most effective approaches to the prevention and minimisation of workplace aggression in medical practice settings.

What is known about the topic? With the exception of a small number of qualitative studies in general practice, there is a lack of research reporting on the implementation of workplace aggression prevention and minimisation interventions across clinical medical practice settings in Australia.

What does this paper add? Baseline evidence is provided on the point-prevalence of 12 workplace aggression prevention and minimisation interventions in diverse medical practice settings in Australia, which suggests that key approaches recommended by leading international organisations and researchers are not widely implemented in many clinical medical workplaces.

What are the implications for practitioners? More concerted efforts need to be undertaken to achieve the widespread implementation of aggression prevention and minimisation interventions in clinical medical practice settings.


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