One-Third of Nurses Report Physical Abuse by Patients
The Canadian Press
April 22, 2009
TORONTO – A Statistics Canada study suggests that one-third of nurses working in hospitals or long-term care facilities were physically abused by patients in a one-year period.
It’s the first national survey of its kind, involving questionnaires that were filled in by 12,200 nurses across the country in 2005.
Forty-seven per cent of the nurses reported they had been emotionally abused by patients in the previous year, and the figure jumped to 70 per cent among nurses working in psychiatry and mental health.
Kathryn Wilkins, one of the authors of the study, says they found factors in the workplace related to violence.
She says nurses who perceived a shortage of personnel, and a low level of support from their supervisor and colleagues, were more likely to report physical violence within the past year from patients.
“We also noted that female nurses were less likely to have reported violence than male nurses were, keeping in mind that male nurses comprise a very small percentage of all nurses, about six per cent,” she said.
“Still they were more likely to have experienced violence from patients.”
Wilkins said this study didn’t explore the reasons for this, but previous studies have. Those studies found that male nurses are more frequently placed in a position of handling agitated patients, or they jump to the protection of female nurses who are in danger of being assaulted, she said.
“So in fact, it’s probably a question of exposure. They’re exposed to more risk.”