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Accepted Paper:

Violence against health professionals in hospitals - a global phenomenon with local solutions?  


Margret Jaeger (SFU University)
Julia Wahl
Julia Wiesinger

Paper short abstract:

Entering a hospital to seek help puts patients in a vulnerable situation. At the same time, health professionals working in hospitals across the world have reported incidents of violence against them more. This ongoing project evaluates the measures taken against violence in an Austrian hospital.

Paper long abstract:

People with ill health are in a vulnerable situation when they enter a hospital in search of help. Health professionals are trained to diagnose and treat illnesses and offer care according to the local health system's resources. Studies from the last twenty years show high incidents of violence against health professionals in eight countries and question measures against it. International initiatives show the same high amount of incidents in EU member states over the last few years and show us that this problem needs to be addressed from different perspectives. As stories of incidents in Austrian hospitals were being reported more frequently, we started a pilot project with a systematic literature review and qualitative research in cooperation with a hospital. The presentation shows results from these first studies that give an insight into the staff's experience (interviews), the hospital's measures (field visits) to protect them, and the evaluation of these measures. Anthropological knowledge is used to analyse the context of the incidents and the cases themselves. The taboo against talking (and reporting) about violent incidents and the organisation, undergoing a change management process during the study, are challenging the researchers in a very fast-changing work environment. Demographic factors (age, gender, ethnic background, years of work experience) among health professionals play a central role in changes in how to deal with incidents. One conclusion is that educational programs for health professions need to include individual training and awareness of risk factors to prevent incidents and protect the health of workers.

Panel P182
Moving terrains in care and biomedicine: affective modes and vulnerable positions (MAE)