Violence and discrimination are common events at work, especially in the health care setting. Nevertheless, comprehensive data on their prevalence and health correlates among the entirety of hospital staff is missing. Thisstudy aimed to estimate the prevalence of different self-reported forms of workplace violence and discrimination among hospital employees in Switzerland and to investigate the association between such experiences at work and the general and mental health status.
This cross-sectional study was based on secondary data from a company survey among five public hospitals and rehabilitation clinics in German-speaking Switzerland conducted in 2015/16 (N = 1,567). Relative frequencies of different forms of violence and discrimination at work were calculated for the entire study population and for the occupational subgroups. These prevalence data were compared with a representative sample of the general Swiss working population as a reference group. Multiple logistic regression analyses were further computed to investigate the association between the number of different experienced forms of violence and/or discrimination at work and several poor general and mental health outcomes (poor self-rated health, sleep disorders, psychological stress, mental problem, burnout).
23% of hospital employees experienced at least one form of discrimination or violence at work in the past year, compared to 18% of the general working population. Nurses and midwives were by far the most affected occupational group regarding all forms of violence. More and particularly most exposed hospital employees with regard to experiences of violence and/or discrimination at work showed almost consistently increased prevalence rates and odds ratios for the studied poor mental and general health outcomes. Prevalence rates and adjusted odds ratios for strong sleep disorders, strong stress feelings and increased burnout symptoms were between three and four times higher among the most exposed compared to those hospital employees who did not make any of these experiences at work at all.
Study findings underline the importance of an active combat against violent and discriminatory behaviors in health care. Prevention strategies should particularly focus on nurses and midwives, which turned out to be the most affected and exposed group of all health professions.