Background: Patient initiated aggression toward general practice staff can cause distress among staff, however, it is unknown how frequently practice staff experience patient aggression in the workplace. The aim of this study is to determine the national prevalence of patient aggression toward general practice staff.
Method: A clustered cross sectional survey involving general practice staff working in Australia.
Results: A questionnaire was posted to 1109 general practices nationally and 217 questionnaires were completed and returned (19.6% response rate). It was found that verbal aggression is commonly experienced by practice staff, particularly receptionists, whereas physical aggression is infrequent. Staff working in larger practices experience more verbal aggression and property damage or theft and it was reported that verbal aggression has a greater impact on staff wellbeing than physical aggression.
Discussion: This study provides some national evidence of the prevalence of patient aggression toward general practice staff. This may inform the development of policy and procedures.