Violence against health personnel before and during the COVID-19 pandemic


Revista da Associação Médica Brasileira




SUMMARY OBJECTIVE: Violence in the workplace has been an alarming phenomenon around the world. The aim of this study was to analyze the frequency of violence against health personnel in urgent and emergency departments, before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: This is an exploratory cross-sectional study including a structured online survey with the approval of the Research Ethics Committee. The sample was composed of health personnel over 18 years old who work in urgent and emergency departments. The survey was structured with sections: sociodemographic data, detailing of occupational data, and a survey of physical, verbal, sexual, and racial violence. Descriptive statistics included absolute frequencies and percentages for categorical variables and means with standard deviation for continuous variables. RESULTS: A total of 114 participants, aged between 20 and 60 years, answered the questionnaire; 68.4% of them were women. Most of them were white (71.9%), married or living with a partner (70.2%), residing in the south or southeast regions (85.1%) of Brazil, 56.1% doctors, 11.4% nurses, and 12.3% nursing technicians. The incidence of violence before the COVID-19 pandemic was 60%. During the pandemic, the incidence suffered low variation, being 57.9%. Only 37.7% said that their workplace offers some procedure/routine to report acts of violence suffered at work. Verbal violence was the most reported among the participants. Anxiety, tiredness, fear, low self-esteem, loss of concentration, and stress are the most frequent consequences of aggression. CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic did not potentiate the episodes of violence; however, episodes of violence continue to occur, and so management and prevention measures must be implemented.

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