The Korea Herald


At least 1 in 4 nurses exposed to workplace violence from doctors: survey

By Park Ye-eun

Published : Sept. 5, 2023 - 15:48

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(Herald DB) (Herald DB)

One in four nurses suffered physical or verbal violence from doctors in the last six months, a study showed Tuesday.

The research team, led by Park Eun-jun, a nursing professor at Korea National Open University, recently published a paper on the theme of nurses’ experience of violence at work in the journal of Korean Academic Society of Nursing Education.

In the study, 71.1 percent of the 1,000 nurses who voluntarily participated in the study at 40 hospitals nationwide from Nov. 14 to Dec. 22 last year said they experienced violence at work at least once. Of all respondents, 24.6 percent said they had been physically or verbally abused by doctors within the last six months.

According to the report, types of physical violence included doctors kicking things in the hospital and trying to throw things at nurses. Types of verbal violence included use of coercive tone and belittling nursing as an occupation.

In addition, 4 percent said they had been sexually harassed by doctors in the past six months. Types of sexual harassment included those involving physical contact, verbal and visual harassment.

Nurses' way of coping differed depending on who the perpetrator was. In response to physical violence by doctors, 31.1 percent disregarded the incident, while 26.8 percent tried to alter their behavior to prevent reoccurrences.

“Nurses showed a passive attitude toward doctors' violence, and maintained a skeptical attitude toward problem solving,” the research team said, adding that if nurses avoid communication to reduce the possibility of verbal violence, it would pose "a significant risk to patient care."

The researchers further noted that as it is difficult to expect confidentiality and fair investigations, most people forego reporting. Therefore, managing a separate violence management program or contracting with external specialized institutions to deal with the issue is necessary, they said.