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The 'disease' of violence against health-care workers is a wicked problem. Managing and preventing violence in health-care


Jacob, A and McCann, D and Buykx, P and Thomas, B and Spelten, E and Schultz, Rebecca and Kinsman, Leigh and Jacob, Elisabeth, The 'disease' of violence against health-care workers is a wicked problem. Managing and preventing violence in health-care, Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, 14, (2) pp. 159-170. ISSN 1759-6599 (2021) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Emerald Publishing Limited

DOI: doi:10.1108/JACPR-08-2021-0629


Purpose: This paper aims to illustrate the complexity of understanding and managing violent behaviour in health care. The authors will show how different perceptions of the reasons for violent behaviour, and linkages between violent behaviour and illness have contributed to the creation of a wicked problem and added significant complexity to the management of violence towards staff within health-care settings. This paper will conclude with a call for strong multi-disciplinary action to address this ongoing issue.

Design/methodology/approach: A narrative review was undertaken to explore the ways that violence has been perceived in health care and the ways in which the concept of violence has moved from being seen as a criminal issue to being within the realms of disease. This paper will show the importance of understanding who is perpetrating violence in health care, why and in what settings. It will expound on the idea that considering violence as a consequence of disease necessarily adds a layer of complexity to both individual and organisational responses to violence towards health-care staff.

Findings: Understanding the complexity in preventing and managing violence against health-care staff can assist policymakers and managers to develop multi-faceted approaches to violence prevention, including better recognition and understanding of perpetrators of violence.

Originality/value: This paper provides a unique perspective on thinking about violence in health care and the implications of its complexity.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:violence, complexity, wicked problems, medicalisation of violence, perceptions of violence, violence in health care
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Public health
Research Field:Injury prevention
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Injury prevention and control
UTAS Author:McCann, D (Ms Damhnat McCann)
ID Code:149459
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Nursing
Deposited On:2022-03-31
Last Modified:2022-07-04

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