Sunday, 14 February 2016

Workplace violence against nurses in Ghana

Roger Watson, Editor

Workplace violence against nurses seems to be, literally, a universal problem.  Violence does not always involve physical assault but also insults and harassment.  The aim of this article by Boafa et al. (2016) from Ghana titled 'Sources, incidence and effects of non-physical workplace violence against nurses in Ghana' is: 'to document the incidence, sources and effects of workplace verbal abuse and sexual harassment against Ghanaian nurses'.  The study involved nearly 600 nurses in Ghanaian public hospitals.

As the authors say: 'While healthcare workers are generally recognized as increasing targets of violence, nurses are particularly at risk. In the UK, for instance, nursing has been described as the most dangerous occupation because of workplace violence'.  The present study is the first to survey workplace violence in Ghana.  The definition of workplace violence was that used by the WHO: ‘incidents where staff are abused, threatened, or assaulted in circumstances related to their work. . . involving an explicit or implicit challenge to their safety, well-being or health’.

As describe by the authors: 'Seventy-two of the 592 participants (12 2%) reported that they have been sexually harassed in their workplace in the past 12 months before the study. Of the 72 participants who were sexually harassed in the workplace, 83% reported that they were harassed inside the hospital and over 50% indicated that a medical doctor sexually harassed them. The second most commonly cited perpetrators of sexual harassment were relatives of patients.'  In terms of verbal violence: 'The incidence of verbal abuse was higher than that of sexual harassment. Of the 592 nurses, 312 (52 7%) reported to have suffered verbal abuse in the 12 months preceding the study. Out of these, 259 (83 0) were female nurses and 53 (17 0%) were male nurses.'

In conclusion, the authors state: 'This paper constitutes the very first study to be conducted on the incidence of workplace verbal abuse and sexual harassment against nurses in Ghana. The findings in this paper show that workplace verbal abuse and sexual harassment are major problems for nurses. More than half of the sample (52 7%) were exposed to verbal abuse and 12 2% were sexually harassed at the workplace in the 12 months preceding the study. Gender was statistically significantly associated with verbal abuse and sexual harassment. Participants who worked at the Greater Accra region experienced higher rates of sexual harassment and verbal abuse. Both forms of violence had significant impacts on the psychological well-being of participants. Furthermore, verbal abuse was statistically significantly associated with intention to quit the nursing profession'.

Reference

Boafo IM, Hancock P, Gringart E (2016) Sources, incidence and effects of non-physical workplace violence against nurses in Ghana Nursing Open doi: 10.1002/nop2.43

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