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Illinois Nurses Face Workplace Violence

flickr/isafmedia (CC BY 2.0)

new report from the University of Illinois finds the vast majority of nurses in Illinois experience violence on the job. 

The survey on workplace violence was sent to members of the Illinois Nurses Association, which has more than 2,000 members in various healthcare settings.

Of the 275 respondents, 90 percent reported experiencing violence at least once in the past year - and more than half reported six or more incidents in that time period. Almost all returned to work immediately after being a target.

“We’re talking about kind of a wide range, from what we would categorize as emotional or verbal abuses, to physical abuses, all the way up to sexual harassment," said Emily Twarog, professor of labor and employment relations at the U of I. She said she was surprised to see that almost all respondents report continuing to work immediately after being a target.

“I think it’s a combination of not feeling comfortable reporting incidents of violence to management, not being clear on what the procedures are in terms of reporting incidents, as well as having the general expectation that it’s kind of part of the job and you just go with the flow," Twarog said.

Violence against nurses takes both a physical and emotional toll that will "have an impact on the longevity of nurses to stay in the field, the willingness of people to go into nursing," she said.

Twarog recommends management work with nurses on the frontlines to create policies to help better protect them on the job. Increasing the nurse-to-patient ratio could also help improve work conditions for Illinois nurses.

The study is part of the Project for Middle Class Renewal at the U of I -- a research-based initiative focused on issues affecting workers.

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