School of Psychology and Social Science
Edith Cowan University
International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS)
To document the incidence, sources and effects of workplace verbal abuse and sexual harassment against Ghanaian nurses.
A cross-sectional study was conducted in Ghana from 2013–2014 which surveyed 592 professional nurses and midwives working in public hospitals in Ghana using the health sector violence questionnaire.
The majority of participants were females (80%). The average age of participants was 31·76 years and the average number of years practising as nurse was 7·38. Twelve per cent of the participants experienced at least one incident of sexual harassment and 52·2% were exposed to verbal abuse. The majority of perpetrators of sexual harassment were medical doctors (50%). Relatives of patients emerged as the most frequent verbal abusers (45·5%). Chi-square test showed statistically significant associations between gender and workplace violence and between workplace violence and intention to quit the nursing profession. The effects of workplace violence ranged from having disturbing memories about the incident to being ‘super alert’ and vigilant.
Establishing the incidence of workplace violence is a necessary step towards addressing the problem. It is concluded that educational programs must be designed for healthcare workers and the general public to foster awareness of the effects of workplace violence. Clear policies must also be instituted to address the problem.
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