Violence against doctors: 2. Effects of violence on doctors working in accident and emergency departments

Eur J Emerg Med. 1999 Dec;6(4):305-9. doi: 10.1097/00063110-199912000-00006.


There is abundant evidence to suggest that doctors are increasingly being exposed to violent incidents at their workplace. The possible effects of aggression on an individual are varied and likely to depend on the severity and frequency of episodes and the perceived vulnerability to further episodes. The reported sequaelae of violent incidents towards doctors include varied psychological disturbances, and changes in behaviour, such as increasing prescribing, ongoing fear of violence at work, and poor staff morale. We investigated the effects of violence against doctors in the accident and emergency departments in Kuwait. Seventy-five (86%) out of 87 doctors exposed to violent incidents reported one or more of the symptoms consisting of: depression, reliving experience (flashbacks), insomnia, and taking 'time off'. The effects lasted for more than 4 weeks in 25, for 3-4 weeks in 17, and for 2-3 weeks in 21. The duration of symptoms was longer in doctors exposed to verbal insults or threats of imminent violence coupled with incidents involving single acts of violence. Out of a total of 101 doctors; 90 (89%) remained worried about violence at work and 72 (71%) thought training to deal with potentially violent situations would be useful.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Emergency Medicine*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kuwait
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Violence / classification
  • Violence / psychology*