Healthcare workers increasingly abused, threatened and assaulted on the job

AMSTERDAM - In the past year, three-quarters of healthcare workers reported instances where they faced aggression or intimidation at their workplace. Cases varied from physical and/or verbal aggression to sexual intimidation and other threats, the member’s association for pension provider PGGM stated.

The association conducted a study of eleven thousand employees from all across the medical sector. A third of the respondents said they believed that the aggressive and violent behavior towards the professionals intensified over the past year. The most common reason they gave was the Coivd-19 pandemic.

More than one-third said they also were victims of physical attacks while 22 percent said they were sexually intimidated. About 20 percent also stated they experienced other forms of threats from patients. The vast majority of healthcare workers, nearly two-thirds of respondents, said they were verbally abused by clients in 2020.

These instances left psychological scars for many of the medical professionals and caregivers. About 25 percent of employees who were physically or verbally attacked on their job reported mental health complaints afterward. Four percent stated they considered abandoning their profession after such instances took place.

The majority of healthcare workers said the inappropriate behavior came from patients or clients. Around half of all medical professionals said family members or other patient visitors acted aggressively towards them. A quarter of respondents said they were the victims of poor conduct by colleagues or managers. Most of the healthcare workers said these were isolated incidences, while a small group stated such cases occurred more than once.

Overall, healthcare workers said they are generally satisfied with the manner in which these cases were handled, however, many felt further training on how to manage undesirable behavior is needed. 

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