The Effects of Trivialization of Workplace Violence on Its Victims

Profession and Sex Differences in a Cross-Sectional Study among Healthcare and Law Enforcement Workers
BACKGROUND: Workers from the law enforcement and healthcare sectors tend to normalize or mute their victimization from workplace violence (WPV).
OBJECTIVES: This study aims to assess the impact of the trivialization of WPV on psychological consequences for workers who have been affected by a WPV incident. The second aim is to assess the moderating effect of sex on the trivialization of WPV. The third and overarching aim is to assess the moderating effect of professional identity on the relations between individual and organizational factors and psychological consequences following a WPV incident.
METHODS: The findings are based on a convenience sample of 377 (204 female and 173 male) workers from the law enforcement and healthcare sectors. Individual factors (sex, age, professional identity, prior victimization, witnessing WPV, injuries, and trivialization of violence) and perceived support factors (colleagues' support and employer's support) were used as predictor variables of psychological consequences in hierarchical linear regression models. Sex was used as a moderator of trivialization while professional identity was used as a moderator of all predictors.
FINDINGS: When individual and social support factors were controlled for, normalizing violence was negatively associated with psychological consequences while perceiving a taboo associated with complaining about WPV was positively associated for all participants. When these relations were moderated by the sex of the participants and then by their professional identity, normalization was found to decrease psychological consequences only for male healthcare workers. IMPLICATIONS: To help employees cope with WPV, organizations should promote strategies adapted to profession and sex differences. For male healthcare workers, normalization as a cognitive coping strategy should be formally recognized. For both professions and sexes, organizational strategies that counter the perceived taboo of complaining about violence should be reinforced.

Source: Geoffrion, S., Goncalves, J., Boyer, R., Marchand, A., & Guay, S. (2017). Annals of work exposures and health.

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