-- Alan Mozes
TUESDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Nursing home workers who
are routinely exposed to violent encounters with either the
residents they care for or visitors to the nursing home face a
three times greater risk for developing painful musculoskeletal
conditions, new research reveals.
Dr. Helena Miranda, of the Finnish Institute of Occupational
Health in Helsinki, led a team that surveyed 920 employees working
at 12 different nursing homes that were owned by a single company,
located in Maryland and Maine.
The staff were drawn from a wide range of occupations within
each facility. Most were women, and there were no temporary
workers. The average amount of time each employee had worked in
their current position was 12 years, according to the report
published in the Sept. 28 online edition of the journal
Occupational & Environmental Medicine.
The study authors found that nearly half the workers had been
attacked in some manner by a patient or a patient's visitor at
least one time during the three months prior to being surveyed.
One quarter of the workers said they had been repeatedly
attacked in that timeframe.
The risk for attack appeared to be greater among younger and
newer staff, the researchers observed.
Overall, the more one was attacked, the greater likelihood that
he or she went on to develop musculoskeletal pain. For example,
while just 40 percent of those employees who had not been attacked
in the past three months said they had lower back pain, that figure
rose to 70 percent among those who had been attacked three or more
times in that period.
Widespread pain across the lower back, shoulders, hands and
knees was three times more common among those who had been attacked
three or more times in the prior three months, the researchers
Assault victims indicated that they viewed their work
environment as unsafe, while prompting them to consider quitting
their job within the coming two years.
Miranda and her colleagues pointed out that employee turnover at
nursing homes is between 25 and 150 percent, and that this sort of
occupational hazard may play a contributing role to such high
"Musculoskeletal disorders are a leading reason for sick leave and permanent disability in most occupations, particularly health care," the authors noted in a news release from the journal's publisher. "Good workplace safety in nursing homes is likely to protect against this and many other adverse effects of violence."
For more on nursing home staff safety, visit the
U.S. Occupational Safety & Health
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