Aims: To identify levels of Australian rural general practitioners' apprehension about violence, factors effecting apprehension and the effect of apprehension on service provision.
Method: Six focus groups were held with rural GPs from Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria. A questionnaire was developed on the basis of the focus group data and all GPs in these three areas were surveyed.
Results: The results indicated GPs were more apprehensive about providing after hours care than during business hours. Significant gender differences were found with women being more often apprehensive than men and more likely to withdraw after hours services.
Conclusion: This study shows that that levels of apprehension about violence affect GPs' willingness to provide after hours services. Future provision of general practice after hours services and home visits in rural areas requires the availability of a safe working environment to reduce GPs' apprehension about workplace violence.