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.