How to teach about violence in healthcare environment?

Nena Kopcavar Gucek

Keywords: violence, healthcare, working place safety


Workplace violence (WPV) encompasses physical violence, harassment, intimidation, and disruptive behavior at the workplace. As an increasingly common phenomenon in the healthcare environment, it is affecting and involving healthcare workers, patients, clients and visitors. Only a safe and peaceful working environment enables the delivery of a high quality, professional and patient-friendly healthcare.

Tragic outcomes and increasing frequency of reports on violent incidents suggest the need for raising awareness and raising competencies of the healthcare workers in this domain. In this presentation, an example of educating medical staff in their own environment as a form of continuous medical education (CME) will be described.


In 2017, a multidisciplinary group was established at the Medical Chamber of Slovenia. In addition to its other activities, the group of experts also conducts interactive trainings in which a police inspector, a bachelor of laws, a psychiatrist, a registered nurse, and a family practitioner/specialist of family medicine. The training is intended for all healthcare workers. It consists of a 4 hour interactive workshop, which is typically conducted in the health setting of the hosting institution.


The workshop has been conducted four times, three times in the hospital environment and once in a healthcare centre in a small town. More than 100 participants were actively contributing to the contents of the workshop by discussing the vignettes provided by the group as well as discussing their own cases and dilemmas. Their anonymous evaluation sheets reflect satisfaction with the workshop.


While workplace safety is primarily management's responsibility, healthcare workers also play an active role. Knowledge is pivotal in recognizing and addressing violence. By educating about this topic and progressively enhancing competencies at various educational levels, the workshop described in this presentation aims to create safer healthcare settings for patients and staff. In the future, this topic could be also included in other levels of education.

Points for discussion:

Which kind of violence is the biggest challenge in your working environment?

Who is responsible for the workplace safety at your workplace?

What preventive measures have been taken to prevent violence in your working environment? If none, what measures could be implemented, according to you?


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