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Clinical Psychologists' Experience of Violence at Work.

Hilton, Margaret R. (1990) Clinical Psychologists' Experience of Violence at Work. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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The following research was carried out by a working party, which was set up in response to a near-fatal attack on a black clinical psychologist in the course of her work. Its’ aim was to inform the profession about the extent and nature of violence psychologists’ experience at work, and highlight some of the risk factors involved. Also, to explore the personal repercussions of being a victim of violence and identify the need for policies and procedures to address this problem. This study reports the results of a national sample survey of 116 clinical psychologists working in eight district psychology departments. The survey sought information on their experiences of violence at work. 49.1% had experienced physical assault, 67% violence to property, 71.1% verbal abuse and 84.2% verbal aggression in the course of their work. 17.6% had experienced physical aggression within the past year, and 81.4% were currently working with clients with a history of aggression. 77.5% reported that they experienced situations in which there was a risk of violence at least once a year. 5.6% of respondents experienced physical violence, 23.9% verbal abuse, 21.7% verbal aggression and 31.1% sexual harassment from colleagues. There was a significant gender difference with 48% of women and 10% of men reporting such harassment. Racial harassment had been experienced by two of the three black psychologists in the sample. Significant differences between psychologists working in different specialties were found suggesting that those in neuropsychology, learning disability, psychiatric rehabilitation and substance abuse may be most at risk. However, the small numbers of respondents in each specialty argue for caution in assuming that this is generally true. Over a quarter of respondents did not feel confident in their ability to manage physical aggression and 58.4% had received no training in the prevention and management of violence. Descriptions of 66 specific incidents of aggression experienced by 56 psychologists were reported. 23.9% of these resulted in minor injuries and 7.9% of victims needed medical treatment. Descriptive factors relating to the perpetrator, victim, type of interaction and situation were identified from the accounts. Perpetrators with a diagnosis of personality disorder, schizophrenia or learning disability were particularly represented in the most serious incidents. A qualitative data analysis examined ways in which the victims described their experiences. Many of these accounts reflected extremely frightening and potentially dangerous events. Factors believed to have contributed to the attack were the psychiatric, physical and emotional state of the perpetrator, their perceptions/beliefs about the victim and the nature of the victim/perpetrator interaction. Themes reflecting the victims’ attitude and reactions to the attack are discussed, and risk factors identified. Only female respondents reported a sense of grievance about the attack, some believing that others had contributed to the risk in some way or had responded negatively to the incident. There was also a greater tendency for women to attempt to justify or explain their role in the attack. The implications of the findings are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Hilton, Margaret R.
Date : 1990
Additional Information : Thesis (Psych.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 1990.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 06 May 2020 11:53
Last Modified : 06 May 2020 11:53

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