Objective: To identify the prevalence, causes, types, and sources of workplace violence among health professionals in public hospitals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Methods: This exploratory cross-sectional survey employed self-administered questionnaires to collect data on aspects of workplace violence against physicians and nurses in Saudi hospitals. The questionnaires were distributed randomly to 600 physicians and nurses, of which 383 (63.8%) completed the questionnaires at 2 public hospitals in Riyadh city between May and July 2011.
Results: More than two-thirds (67.4%) of respondents reported they were victims of violence in the previous 12 months. Nurses were more likely to be exposed to violent incidents than physicians (p<0.001). Males, less experienced, and younger respondents were more likely to encounter violent episodes than their counterparts. Respondents reported that excessive waiting time, shortage of staff, and unmet patients' demands were the most common reasons for violence. Verbal abuse was the most common type encountered. The assailants were mostly the patients' relatives or friends, followed by the patients themselves. Reasons for not reporting violent events included: feel it is a part of the job, previous experience of no action, and fear of consequences.
Conclusion: Physicians and nurses are at high risk of violent incidents. Health decision makers need to be aware of the potential consequences of such events. Appropriate preventive measures are needed to make hospitals safer environments.