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Doctors are often confronted with violence in their practices. 37% was the victim of aggression and violence in the past year. That number goes up to 84,4% over the course of their full careers. Female and younger doctors are significantly more at risk of falling victim. These and other findings can be found in the study Aggression and violence against doctors within the doctor-patient relationship: A cross-sectional study in Belgium. The research was carried out by VUB master student Lennart De Jager and mentored by professor general medicine Dirk Devroey.
All doctors active in Belgium over the past twelve months, could participate in the large scale study. The Orde van Artsen cooperated with the project. In total 3276 complete and correct questionnaires were submitted. The survey results showed that 84,4% (3144) of physicians were victims of aggression and violence within the doctor-patient relationship over the course of their careers and 36,8% (1372) in the past year. For the past twelve months it was distributed as follows: 33,1% verbal aggression, 30,0% psychological violence, 14,4% physical violence and 9,5% sexual violence.
The prevalence of aggression and violence was significantly higher among female and younger doctors. When we look at work areas, psychiatric institutions are the most dangerous. It was also striking that doctors with a main practice outside of a hospital were more often confronted with violence and aggression.
The study expects that demographic changes in the doctor’s population, including an increase in the percentage of female physicians, will further increase the violence and aggression against doctors in the future. Therefore the study suggest preventive measures be taken, specifically aimed at risk groups.