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

Occupational violence in general practice: a whole-of-practice problem. Results of a cross-sectional study

Parker J. Magin A B F , Jenny May C , Patrick McElduff D , Susan M. Goode A , Jon Adams E and Georgina L. Cotter A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW 2308, Australia. Email: susan.goode@newcastle.edu.au; georgina.cotter@newcastle.edu.au

B General Practice Training Valley to Coast, Mayfield, NSW 2304, Australia.

C Department of Rural Health, University of Newcastle, Tamworth, NSW 2340, Australia. Email: jenny.may@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au

D Hunter Medical Research Institute, Newcastle, NSW 2300, Australia. Email: patrick.mcelduff@newcastle.edu.au

E School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Herston, QLD 4006, Australia. Email: j.adams@sph.uq.edu.au

F Corresponding author. Email: parker.magin@newcastle.edu.au

Australian Health Review 35(1) 75-80 https://doi.org/10.1071/AH10874
Submitted: 24 January 2010  Accepted: 18 May 2010   Published: 25 February 2011

Abstract

Objective. To examine the experiences of occupational violence in general practitioner (GP) and non-GP staff. Further objectives were to compare prevalence of violence in GP and non-GP staff and to examine levels of apprehension and perceptions of control over violence.

Design. Cross-sectional questionnaire-based study.

Setting. A network of research general practices, New South Wales, Australia.

Participants. GPs and non-GP staff – receptionist, practice-management, nursing and allied health staff.

Main outcome measure(s). Experience of occupational violence during the previous 12 months. Other outcomes examined were workplace apprehension regarding violence, perception of occupational violence as a problem in general practice, and perception of control over violence in the workplace.

Results. A total of125 questionnaire replies were received (response rate 55%), 59.3% of GPs and 74.6% of non-GPs had experienced work-related violence during the previous 12 months. The difference was not significant (OR 0.65, 95% CI 0.20–2.06). Subjects in rural practices were more likely than those in urban practices to have experienced violence (OR 3.79, 95% CI 1.15–12.5). Personal experience of violence (OR 35.9, 95% CI 6.24–207) and a perception that violence is increasing (OR 8.33, 95% CI 1.89–36.6) were associated with apprehension regarding violence at work.

What is known about the topic? The prevalence and impact upon GPs of occupational violence is well established, but occupational violence has been little-researched in non-GP staff.

What does this paper add? This study demonstrates that occupational violence is a major issue for non-GP staff – at least as much as it is for GPs.

What are the implications for practitioners? Apprehension and fear among general practice staff are strongly associated with experiences of violence and must be addressed at a whole-of-practice level with measures to reduce violence and improve safety.


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