Physical violence against health care workers: A nationwide study from Iran

Masoud Fallahi-Khoshknab, Fatemeh Oskouie, Fereshteh Najafi, Nahid Ghazanfari, Zahra Tamizi, Shahla Afshani


Background: Workplace violence is a serious and problematic phenomenon in health care settings. Research shows that health care workers are at the highest risk of such violence. The aim of this study was to address the frequency of physical violence against Iranian health personnel, their response to such violence, as well as the contributing factors to physical violence.

Materials and Methods: A cross‑sectional study was conducted in 2011, in which 6500 out of 57,000 health personnel working in some teaching hospitals were selected using multi‑stage random sampling. Data were collected using the questionnaire of  “Workplace Violence in the Health Sector” developed by the International Labor Organization, the International Council of Nurses, the World Health Organization, and the Public Services International.

Results: The findings revealed that 23.5% of the participants were exposed to physical violence in the 12 months prior to the study. Nurses were the main victims of physical violence (78%) and patients’ families were the main perpetrators of violence (56%). The most common reaction of victims to physical violence was asking the aggressor to stop violence (45%). Lack of people’s knowledge of employees’ tasks was the most common contributing factor to physical violence (49.2%).

Conclusions: Based on the results, legislating appropriate laws in order to prevent and control violence in the workplace is necessary. Moreover, developing educational programs to manage the incidence of physical violence should be on health centers’ agenda.



Health care worker; health personnel; Iran; physical violence; workplace violence

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