Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Security of healthcare workers in patient treatment

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
3.08.00  Medical sciences  Public health (occupational safety)   

Code Science Field
B680  Biomedical sciences  Public health, epidemiology 

Code Science Field
3.03  Medical and Health Sciences  Health sciences 
Violence, aggression, health care, nursing, workplace security
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (7)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  13919  PhD Tit Albreht  Public health (occupational safety)  Head  2018 - 2020  526 
2.  37739  PhD Branko Gabrovec  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2018 - 2020  381 
3.  12439  PhD Marjetka Jelenc  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2018 - 2020  321 
4.  17048  PhD Branko Lobnikar  Administrative and organisational sciences  Researcher  2018 - 2020  1,245 
5.  38302  PhD Kaja Prislan Mihelič  Administrative and organisational sciences  Researcher  2018 - 2020  282 
6.  39039  PhD Špela Selak  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2018 - 2020  135 
7.  23375  PhD Brigita Skela Savič  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2018 - 2020  1,053 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  2131  University of Maribor Faculty of Criminal Justice  Ljubljana  5089638047  9,292 
2.  2672  FACULTY OF HEALTH CARE JESENICE  Jesenice  2245272  5,462 
3.  3333  National Institut of Public Health  Ljubljana  6462642  18,738 
Recently, we have been witnessing increasing patient violence against healthcare workers, including incidents that have resulted in the most tragic outcomes. Research shows that most violence against healthcare workers is directed against nursing staff, who are frequently the first healthcare workers to come into contact with patients and at the same time spend the most time with them.   Between 35 – 80 % of healthcare workers report having been physically attacked at their workplace at least once. In the United States, as many as 1.7 million workers are injured each year due to violence, of which 60 % work in health care (Clements et al., 2005).   The definition of violence includes passive, physical and psychological violence. Passive aggressive patients refuse to cooperate and alienate themselves. Verbal violence consists of aggressive words and phrases along with accompanying gestures and facial expressions (Živič, 2000). Physically aggressive patients can attack and injure others by beating, spitting, pushing, kicking, or choking them, bending their hands, etc. Such behaviour can also be directed against objects (Klemenc & Pahor, 2000).   Data on patient violence in psychiatric hospitals, especially in closed wards, are important, with numbers ranging from 3.9 % to 37 % in different parts of the world (in Slovenia between 6 and 7 %). In psychiatric departments, staff suffer the majority of injuries that result from patient violence, which draws attention to the need for all psychiatric staff to have adequate knowledge on how to recognise and prevent violent behaviour in psychiatric patients in a timely manner (Groleger, 2009). Furthermore, Čebašek Travnik (2009) maintains that little has been done in Slovenia to protect healthcare workers against the frequent incidents of violence inflicted by patients.   While statistics already indicate that a large proportion of healthcare workers have sustained injuries in the workplace, the actual percentage is probably even greater, mainly due to frequent non-reporting of incidents (Gates at al., 2011). Namely, as many as 70 % of incidents against nurses remain unreported (Stokowski, 2010).   Our healthcare system is confronted by increasing security risks for its employees. Without their safety, positive attitude and motivation, it is not possible to fulfil the mission and basic tasks of the medical profession. Among all occupational groups in the health sector, various forms of patient aggression are present, and the likelihood of a healthcare worker becoming a victim of violence is extremely high. Verbal violence is very common, as well as physical and even sexual violence. Individual forms of violence do not occur independently, but are interconnected and generate one another. Healthcare workers who deal with incidents at the operational level do not have the skills to recognise and manage aggressive behaviour, while they are responsible for the safety of the patient, the environment and themselves. Therefore, it is necessary to determine the actual situation, the forms of violence and the influencing factors, and, based on better understanding, draw up a plan to improve self-efficacy of healthcare workers when it comes to ensuring security against aggressive and violent attacks by patients.   The aim of the project is thus to more precisely determine how pervasive patient aggression against healthcare workers is and to establish a framework for functional education of workers, enabling them to recognise aggressive behaviour and identify possible potential responses. In order to provide a reliable and valid basis for action, the level of danger and the nature of violence directed at different groups of workers and in different settings – various public health institutions – must be analysed. Ultimately, in order to align the proposed security measures with the needs of employees as closely as possible, the views and perspectives of other stakeholders – professionals, security o
Significance for science
As society continues to change and an ever-increasing number of security complications arise, there is a need for a systematic approach for dealing with violence against employees also in the health care system. The project will have significant implications both in terms of advances in science as well as for the profession in this field. Scientific research on the problem of violence against healthcare workers is mostly limited to individual studies and research as part of graduate, masters or doctoral theses. The field needs a systematic and scientific approach that will examine the current state of research and carry out research in areas where it has not yet occurred. Violence against healthcare workers requires a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach that includes health, security and methodological sciences. The proposed project will contribute to the following fundamental areas: - it will establish a basis for scientific research (quantitative and qualitative) of violence against healthcare workers; - it will provide a model of functional employee training, which will be suitable for application in professional settings.
Significance for the country
Commercial companies and sole proprietors are part of the private for-profit sector, while the non-government sector falls within the non-profit private sector and carries out services that the market (that is, the economy) does not provide. In this sense, the non-government sector is complementary to the economy and is thus vitally important. As a service and scientific discipline, health care contributes significantly to a healthy economic system, which is also reflected in the international guidelines of the World Health Organization for Europe
Most important scientific results Annual report 2018, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results
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