CBC news (November 27): Health-care workplace violence under-reported, suggests Ontario study

Nurses and other health-care workers in Ontario face unprovoked violence and assault from their patients, suggests a study released Monday.

"We interviewed over 54 hospital workers from across the province in seven different communities," said Jim Brophy, who co-authored the study, Assaulted and Unheard: Violence against Health-care Staff.

"People who go to work literally every day worried that they will be beat up or assaulted."

The study follows an earlier poll of 2,000 Ontario health-care workers, commissioned by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) and released beginning of this month.

In that poll, 68 per cent of hospital staff in Ontario said they have been victims of physical violence at work in the past year — from getting punched and kicked, to being pinned against a wall.

Brophy said the poll results were "very common" in the health-care profession dominated by women.

"In some of the facilities, it's a daily occurrence: women being grabbed, verbal harassment. It is hard to imagine having done this study that one could ignore the role of gender in this story."

Fear of reprisal

It's very hard to imagine other occupations where men are more dominant and that this kind of behaviours would be tolerated, according to Brophy.

Fear of reprisal is prevalent, said Brophy.

"It's one of the reasons that this issue has been kept out of the public view because the victims are not allowed to speak, which is another parallel, I think, to violence against women."

rophy pointed to an under-resourced health-care system, citing a 2002 report from the World Health Organization.

"We've had decades of underfunding. Every single focus group raised with us the need for additional staff."

The Current contacted Ontario's health and labour ministers, requesting a response to Brophy's study. Neither was available.

The Current also asked the Ontario Hospital Association for an interview. It declined and sent the following statement.

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