Associations between Australian clinical medical practitioner exposure to workplace aggression and workforce participation intentions

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Objective The aim of the present study was to determine the association between clinician exposure to workplace aggression from any source in the previous 12 months and workforce participation intentions. Methods A cross-sectional survey, in the third wave of the Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life (MABEL) study, was conducted between March 2010 and June 2011. Respondents were a representative sample of 9449 Australian general practitioners (GPs) and GP registrars (n≤3515), specialists (n≤3875), hospital non-specialists (n≤1171) and specialists in training (n≤888). Associations between aggression exposure and workforce participation intentions were determined using logistic regression modelling. Results In adjusted models, aggression exposure was positively associated with a greater likelihood of intending to reduce clinical workload in the next 5 years (odds ratio (OR)≤1.15, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02-1.29) and intending to leave patient care within 5 years (OR≤1.20, 95% CI 1.07-1.35). When also accounting for well being factors, aggression exposure remained positively associated with intending to leave patient care within 5 years (OR≤1.13, 95% CI 1.00-1.27). Conclusions Exposure to workplace aggression presents a risk to the retention of medical practitioners in clinical practice and a potential risk to community access to quality medical care. More concerted efforts in preventing and minimising workplace aggression in clinical medical practice are required. What is known about the topic? Very few studies have addressed the impact of workplace aggression on workforce participation intentions of medical practitioners. What does this paper add? This paper provides evidence that exposure to workplace aggression from any source is associated with intentions to reduce clinical workload or leave patient care. What are the implications for practitioners? There is a need to prevent or minimise the risk of exposure to workplace aggression from any source because the impacts may extend beyond the known psychological or physical effects to practitioner decisions about ongoing participation in the provision of clinical services.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-42
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian Health Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

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