Violence Risk Assessment and Management Toolkit Helps Physicians Prevent Violence Against Health Care Providers

Preventing violence against health care providers

Physicians and health care staff are dedicated to providing the best care possible to all people, but unfortunately sometimes they face violence from the people they are trying to help. Violent behavior is a challenging part of healthcare – particularly in mental health and substance use settings. According to one study, psychiatrists and mental health professionals are five times more likely to face violence at work compared to other occupations. This is a complex problem. Writing on violence and mental illness in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr Richard Friedman noted that perceiving someone as violent can have devastating effects and people with mental illness already face social stigma but without a realistic understanding of the risks medical professionals can neither provide the best care nor ensure their own safety.

Training the prevention are key to help improve the situation for both patients and health care providers. This is why Dr Laura Chapman and Island Health’s Dr Tracy Nigro undertook their Quality and Innovation Initiative project in 2015 with the help of Deborah McKnight.

Dr Chapman explains why she undertook the project, “we heard about the challenges physicians faced around violence and thought - we can help them”.

Funded by Specialist Services Committee, Dr Chapman and Deborah McKnight worked with Island Health physicians and staff as well as the Provincial Health Services Authority staff to develop a Violence Risk Assessment and Management Toolkit.

The evidence-based toolkit is designed for the clinical setting to meet the needs of physicians. There are many existing materials to help prevent violence and train health care workers and this toolkit will not replace them.

“The toolkit will broaden the perspective of the existing materials” said Dr Chapman, “physicians and patients will benefit from more effective, meaningful assessments about behaviour to prevent violence. This training is intended to help physicians help patients be safer in the community as well”.

The toolkit is designed to augment existing materials and is available in multiple formats including live workshops, rounds, digitally and in print.

Developed at Island Health, the toolkit is now available to physicians and allied health professionals throughout the province through the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Professional Development platform.