Assaults Linked to Pain in Nursing Home Workers

Many providers report recent assaults at work; issue associated with musculoskeletal pain
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Many care providers in nursing homes report recent physical assaults in the workplace, and these are associated in a dose-response manner with musculoskeletal pain, according to research published online Sept. 27 in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Helena Miranda, M.D., of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and colleagues analyzed data from 920 clinical employees of 12 nursing homes. Participants reported recent musculoskeletal pain and assaults from patients or their visitors.

The researchers found that 48 percent of employees reported being assaulted in the previous three months. Low back pain affected 70 percent of those who reported being assaulted three or more times, compared to 40 percent of those who didn't report an assault. Pain affecting three or more body areas was also more common in those who had been assaulted at least three times (prevalence ratio, 2.7). Violence was found to raise the risk of most pain substantially less in nursing homes perceived to be safe.

"Long-term care represents a large and growing segment of health care, so the high prevalence of hazards in this work has important public health consequences. This is the first study to show a dose-response association between physical assaults and musculoskeletal pain in a health care sub-sector in which violence is a frequent and considerable workplace hazard. This emphasizes the need to address workplace violence in future etiological research as well as to implement violence preventive measures in long-term care practice," the authors conclude.

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