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Nurses who suffer abuse risk long term pain

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Nurses and other care home staff who are repeatedly attacked by patients and visitors are tripling their chances of suffering widespread musculoskeletal pain, research suggests.

Around 920 different grades of staff across 12 care homes were surveyed for the study, which was published online in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Staff directly involved with patients and clinical tasks were questioned about the number of times they had been violently attacked over the previous three months.

They were also asked about how much musculoskeletal pain they were suffering.

The researchers did not question any temporary agency staff for the survey.

It also assessed what support levels workers were given, policies surrounding safety at work, their physical workload and autonomy.

Most of the staff surveyed were women, and the average length of time they had worked in their current post was 12 years.

The prevalence of low back pain rose from 40% among those who had not been recently assaulted to 70% among those who had been assaulted on three or more occasions.

Staff who had been assaulted on three or more occasions were three times as likely to have widespread pain - lower back, shoulders, hands and knees - as workers who had not been frequently assaulted.

“Musculoskeletal disorders are a leading reason for sick leave and permanent disability in most occupations, particularly healthcare. Good workplace safety in nursing homes is likely to protect against this and many other adverse effects of violence,” the authors conclude.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I think this quite a dfficult topic for nurses,especially as in reporting injuries caused by residents displaying challenging behaviour,for example, in the field of Learning Disability.
    Reporting injuries caused,can make nurses question ethical practice,and if there is lack of communication from Peers,this further increases a nurses feelings of questioning their actions.
    I feel aspects such as work environments not encouraging reporting of these incidents,or,'playing down'incidences, further adds to issues caused.Such as;The nurse reporting incidences of injury,being made to feel as though they have not acted ethically or in the residents best interests,even though all plans of care and policies and procedures have been adhered to.
    I also feel there is severe lack of support for nurses who recieve an injury which causes time to be taken from work.I feel management should try to understand that nurses may feel anxious and stressed about absenteeism under these circumstances and that their personal life is also affected,causing limitations to personal daily life.
    This is an area which needs further research as to increase understanding of approaches to be taken which promotes the most positive outcomes for all persons involved.
    The nurse who recieves an injury should be treated with respect,not criticised;given support,not made to feel they have acted unproffessionally.

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