FACTSHEET 1: SCOPE, NATURE & CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLENT INCIDENTS VU University Amsterdam is conducting research on violent incidents against care workers in psychiatry.
Mental health professionals were asked to fill in a questionnaire about their personal experience with
violent physical incidents caused by patients in the past 5 years. The research addressed the fol owing
questions: How often did mental health professionals become a victim of violent incidents? What was the
nature of these incidents and what were the consequences? The answers to these questions can be found
here. Victims were also asked what their reasons were for (not) reporting the incident to the police. The
outcomes of this question can be found in Factsheet 2. Factsheet 3 contains information about the
judicial reaction to a violent incident.


During the months of June, July and August 2011, Dutch mental health professionals were asked to fill in an online questionnaire. A website was designed to approach respondents. Respondents were also approached with help of the Union for Nurses (NU’91), the Dutch Association for Mental Health and Addiction (GGZ Nederland) and Social Media. In addition, flyers were distributed and announcements were placed in newsletters of the Dutch Association for Mental Health and Addiction and journals. Respondents were also asked to spread the questionnaire throughout their own network. VICTIMIZATION
1534 Mental health professionals filled in the questionnaire. Most of whom were psychiatric nurses,
sociotherapists, doctors and therapists. 31.4 Percent of the respondents were male. The majority (55.5%)
worked at a general psychiatric hospital for adults (APZ). 67 Percent of the 1534 mental health
professionals were victim of (the threat of) physical violence or fire setting, caused by a patient, at least
once in the past five years. 1534 Mental health professionals reported a total of 2648 incidents, this
means an average of 1.7 incidents per respondent. For every incident they reported, respondents were
asked what the nature of the incident was. The reported incidents differ in nature and severity.
Threatened physically, possibly with weapon, object or liquid
Attempt physical violence
Attempted hitting or throwing with weapon, object or liquid Attempted stabbing with weapon or object Physical violence
Hitting or throwing with weapon, object or liquid Fire setting
*Respondents were allowed to give more answers per incident
**It was possible to fill in a maximum of 5 incidents per questionnaire

Almost half of the incidents resulted in physical injury or psychological damage to the victim. In some
cases the consequences were severe.
No injury
Physical injury
Mental health problems
Alertness, nervousness, severely shocked *Respondents were allowed to indicate numerous injuries per incident

Victims who suffered an injury were asked how long they needed to recover and if applicable, how long they were absent from work. TABLE 3: TIME FOR RECOVERY
No recovery time
No sick leave
1 day or less
Less than 1 week
1 day - 1 week
1 week - 1 month
1 week - 1 month
1 month - 3 months
1 month - 3 months
3 months - 1 year
3 months - 1 year
Over 1 year
Over 1 year
Possibly permanent (partly)
Permanent injury
Mental health professionals who work in psychiatric institutions regularly encounter violence. This violence can have severe consequences. Over one third of the respondents in this research suffered physical injury and more than one quarter had mental health problems. One in seven victims needed more than one month to fully recover from the incident or was injured permanently. For more information about this project and publications seeCite as: Factsheet 1, Violence in Psychiatry, VU University Amsterdam, 2011.


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