UAE Hospitals Take Action Against Lateral Violence Amongst Staff

Low staff morale, increased absenteeism, attrition of staff and deterioration in the quality of patient care are some of the issues caused by violence at work.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, September 03, 2014 --( The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines lateral violence in healthcare as “covert or overt acts of verbal or non-verbal aggression that occur between colleagues.” In particular, the nursing profession in the UAE most commonly experiences relational aggression characterised by psychological abuse. Low staff morale, increased absenteeism, attrition of staff and deterioration in the quality of patient care are some of the outcomes affecting organisations where lateral violence is not curtailed.

The Dubai Hospital has taken great strides in combating this issue in order to ensure a positive working environment for every member of staff.

According to Ms Jincy Anthony, Supervisor of Nursing Education, Dubai Hospital, Dubai Health Authority, “In an effort to obtain baseline information on the awareness of lateral violence in Dubai Hospital, a survey was administered to 250 nursing staff members. With a response rate of 96.4%, the survey revealed that 56% experienced violence at the current workplace while only 37% of claimed to have reported abuse through the incident reporting system. Further findings reveal appalling details of the existence of all forms of violence.”

Ms Anthony will be deliberating on the strategic management of lateral violence at the Nursing Conference during the Arab Health Recruitment & Training Fair organised by Informa Life Sciences Exhibitions from 18-20 October 2014 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

As a result of the survey findings, a training session was conducted at Dubai Hospital to increase the awareness on violence and its management. Educational workshops enhanced awareness of lateral violence amongst the hospital community and improved assertive communication that resulted in a better working environment.

“A repeat survey in February 2014 concluded that 60% of respondents expressed serious concern about violence in workplace (34% somewhat concerned, 6% not concerned). Some of the most common forms of workplace violence experienced by staff include the use of inappropriate language (gossiping or talking in a person’s presence in a language they do not understand) at 47.8%, 33.6% reported relational aggression (withholding, information, social isolation), Verbal Abuse / Verbal threats of violence were reported by 18.45%. Approximately 60% of the respondents attribute the increase in the levels of workplace violence to work-related stress and 41% claim that it is due to social and emotional problems,” highlighted Ms Anthony.

The repeat survey also concludes that administrative staff, supervisors and managers are often categorised as bullies. This necessitates an assessment into the social skills of administrative and managerial staff and also necessitates facilitating appropriate people skills training; counselling sessions, revision of policies and relocation of staff are seen as the strategies to dealing with the issues of workplace violence within the Dubai Health Authority.
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