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Workplace Victimization among Healthcare Workers

Workplace victimization is a serious security concern that affects all types of workplaces. However, one large and fast-growing segment of the workforce is most severely affected: healthcare. Approximately 50% of nonfatal workplace victimization occurs in nursing homes, hospitals, social-service settings, and long-term care environments. Healthcare workers such as nurses, aides, orderlies, and attendants are most at risk. Despite these high rates, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that workplace victimization is underreported in healthcare environments because employees view victimization as “just part of the job.”

With support from a CURA Faculty Interactive Research Program grant, Theresa M. Glomb and Jonathan E. Booth (Carlson School of Management) studied workplace victimization among Minnesota healthcare workers to determine its frequency and examine how healthcare workers appraise and cope with being victimized. They conducted two studies; the first considered victimization in general and the second considered specific incidents. In Study 1, they examined nursing-home workers’ general experiences of being victimized by patients and residents and how workers emotionally and cognitively appraise and cope. In Study 2, they asked healthcare workers to provide details about how they appraised and coped with the most egregious aggressive event they experienced in the past year.

Based on their analysis, Booth and Glomb recommend a threefold approach. First, efforts must be made to reduce victimization from all sources. Second, organizations must find ways to increase reporting of incidents, either through changes in policy or the work environment. Third, organizations must foster positive coping strategies among their workers when victimization does occur.

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Edward Goetz (612) 624-8737