Rural General Practitioner Experience of Work-Related Violence in Australia

Helen Tolhurst, Louise Baker, Gillian Murray, Pam Bell, Amber Sutton, Sarah Hyde

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66 Citations (Scopus)


To identify prevalence, precipitants and risk factors of violence and aggression towards Australian rural general practitioners (GPs). Six focus groups were held with GPs from rural Western Australia and from two rural Divisions of General Practice in New South Wales and Victoria. A questionnaire was developed and all GPs in these three geographical areas were surveyed. The survey results showed that 73% of respondents had experienced some form of violent or aggressive behaviour from patients and 20% had been subjected to physical abuse during their careers as rural doctors. Physical abuse mostly occurred after hours and in a hospital or multipurpose centre. Violence and aggression were often associated with patient drug and alcohol intoxication and psychological disorders. Workplace violence and aggression against rural GPs is a frequent problem. Adequate funding and safe facilities for after-hours care and training for GPs in managing dangerous situations should be provided. A number of overseas studies have shown that work-associated violence is common among GPs and an Australian study has shown that work associated violence is common among remote area nurses. No research investigating the prevalence of work-associated violence among Australian GPs and factors associated with this violence have previously been undertaken. The study showed that violence against the Australian rural GPs surveyed was common, with 73% having been abused in some way during their careers as rural doctors. Physical violence most commonly occurred at the hospital or multipurpose centre with most recent incidents of physical abuse occurring after hours and usually associated with a range of psychiatric problems or alcohol abuse in the patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-236
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Journal of Rural Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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