Workplace violence among emergency medical services workers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Nesrin Alharthy, Mohammed Al Mutairi, Abdullah Alsahli, Ahmed Alshehri, Abdullah Almatrafi, Ahmed Mahah, Abdulrahan Khalid Alswailem, Winnie Phiulip, Shoeb Qureshi


Background: Globally, workplace violence toward health care providers is an area of concern. The impact of workplace violence on health care providers is significant.
Objectives: The study was conducted to evaluate the prevalence of workplace violence (physical and verbal) among emergency medical services (EMS) workers in Riyadh.
Methods: The study used a cross-sectional design that employed a self-administered confidential questionnaire, which was distributed to all emergency medical personnel. A well-structured and validated questionnaire on workplace violence was adopted from the World Health Organization for use in the study.
Results: A total of 370 EMS workers responded to the questionnaire. Workplace violence was experienced by 65% of the respondents. Verbal abuse (61%) was the most common type of violence reported. The majority of the attackers were patients’ relatives (80%) followed by patients themselves (51%). Respondents younger than 30 reported a higher percentage of violent acts than did older respondents (p = .001, Odds ratio [OR] = 2.5, 95% Confidence Interval [CI] = (1.6, 3.9)). Similarly, those who had fewer years of work experience (≤ 10 years) reported a significantly higher percentage of violent incidents than those who had 10 or more years of experience (p = .001, OR = 3.5, 95% CI = 2.1, 5.6). Only 10% of the victims reported the incident to a higher authority. Common reasons for not reporting the violent acts included feeling that it was useless (56%) and that it was not important (52%).
Discussion: The study demonstrates prevalent workplace violence among EMS workers, predominantly in the form of verbal abuse. The rate of workplace violence among EMS personnel is comparable with international figures. Less than half of EMS personnel exhibit knowledge regarding the process of violence reporting. However, workers tend not to report the incidents because they often believe that reporting is useless and/or not important.
Recommendation: With a high reported rate of workplace violence among EMS personnel, we recommend national preventive measures and encouragement to professionals to report violent events. We also recommend awareness programs for the identified vulnerable group.

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Journal of Hospital Administration

ISSN 1927-6990(Print)   ISSN 1927-7008(Online)

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