Violence towards personnel in out-of-hours primary care: a cross-sectional study

Scand J Prim Health Care. 2012 Mar;30(1):55-60. doi: 10.3109/02813432.2012.651570.


Objective: To investigate (1) the prevalence of occupational violence in out-of-hours (OOH) primary care, (2) the perceived cause of violence, and (3) the associations between occupation, gender, age, years of work, and occupational violence.

Design: A cross-sectional study using a self-administered postal questionnaire.

Setting: Twenty Norwegian OOH primary care centres.

Subjects: Physicians, nurses, and others with patient contact at OOH primary care centres, 536 responders (75% response rate).

Main outcome measures: Verbal abuse, threats, physical abuse, sexual harassment.

Results: In total, 78% had been verbally abused, 44% had been exposed to threats, 13% physically abused, and 9% sexually harassed during the last 12 months. Significantly more nurses were associated with verbal abuse (OR 3.85, 95% confidence interval 2.17-6.67) after adjusting for gender, age, and years in OOH primary care. Males had a higher risk for physical abuse (OR 2.36, CI 1.11-5.05) and higher age was associated with lower risk for sexual harassment (OR 0.28, CI 0.14-0.59), when adjusted for background variables. Drug influence and mental illness were the most frequently perceived causes for the last occurring episode of physical abuse, threats, and verbal abuse.

Conclusion: This first study on occupational violence in Norwegian OOH primary care found that a substantial number of health care workers experience occupational violence from patients or visitors. The employer should take action to prevent occupational violence in OOH primary care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • After-Hours Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physicians, Primary Care*
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Care Nursing*
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Risk Factors
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult