Violence Against Staff at Primary Health Clinics in the Community and Comparison with Specialist Clinics

Instances of violent behavior of the part of patients and their escorts against medical staff is recognized as one of the most challenging problems currently facing hospitals and community clinics in Israel and the rest of the world. In health organizations, the risk of violence in the workplace has been found to be among the highest in any professional field.

Following a wave of patient violence in the health system in 2008, Clalit, the Israel Medical Association, the Organization of Clalit Physicians and the Organization of Clalit Employees commissioned the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute to conduct a comprehensive survey of violence against medical staff at Clalit community clinics. This, in light of the lack of information about the extent and characteristics of violence, as a basis to formulate informed policy to address the issue.

To this end, the Institute conducted an extensive survey among all staff members (physicians, nurses, pharmacists and administrative staff) in a sample of primary care and specialist clinics of Clalit.

The study goals were to examine the extent and characteristics of violence against members of staff, to identify risk factors, to learn how the caregivers and the system itself deal with violence, to examine its impact on the wellbeing of the staff members and the service they provide, and to identify directions to prevent violence and to cope more effectively with it.

These questions have not been examined in Israel and have only been examined in the international literature to a limited extent. Thus, this study is the first in Israel to address violence in the community and the data constitute the basis for planning responses and for treating and preventing its occurrence.

Following the initiative of Clalit to conduct a survey among its staff, the Institute has been asked by other agencies in the community to conduct similar surveys. The study findings have been disseminated among members of the study steering committee and senior staff at Clalit.

The study was funded by Clalit, the Israel Medical Association, the Organization of Clalit Physicians and the Organization of Clalit Employees.