Lamothe J, Boyer R, Guay S. (2020). A longitudinal analysis of psychological distress among healthcare workers following patient violence. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 53(1), 48-58.
Workplace violence is a known risk factor for diminished mental health and turnover intentions. Yet, to this day, researchers still do not know how victimized workers cope over time or how organisations can best help them recover. This study sought to document the evolution of psychological distress in a sample of recently victimized professionals (N = 81) immediately after the event and over the course of the following year. Mixed modelling was used to assess distress scores at 4 different time points (3, 11, 27, and 52 weeks). Findings suggest that patient violence had a serious impact on staff mental health, with close to 35% of women and 11% of men suffering from severe distress after returning to work. In addition, 15% of participants exceeded the diagnostic threshold for Acute Stress Disorder (ASD). Rates of psychological distress decreased steadily over time but always remained above the national average. Although perceived organisational support proved to be a good protective factor against distress, its effect eroded with cumulative exposure to violence. Given the high risk of experiencing violence in certain work settings, this article concludes with a discussion of how organisations might be more considerate of the needs of traumatized workers. Employers should screen victimized workers to ensure they receive the help they need.