Knowledge, attitudes, and practices of violence in hospitals: the case of users of the reception and emergency service of the Ebolowa Regional Hospital

Igiene e Sanità Pubblica 2023; 84 (3): 60-72

André Izacar Gaël Bita1, Eddy Thomas Biwole Omgba2, Hermine Ngo Mey Essi3, Raquel Perdy Mbom3 Agbor Agbornkwai Nyenty4

1ICT University, Department of public health, Yaounde, Cameroon
2 University of Yaounde 1, Department of Sociology, Yaounde, Cameroon
3 Private Training Center of Health Professionals of Enongal, Ebolowa, Cameroon 4 FHI 360, Catholic University of Central Africa, Yaounde, Cameroon.

The phenomena of incivility and violence are increasingly recurrent within health facilities in Cameroon. This study examines the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of violence by users in the reception and emergency departments of the Ebolowa Regional Hospital (ERH).

This was a qualitative study of a non-random sample of users encountered in the reception and emergency department at the ERH in southern Cameroon. The principle of saturation was used to determine the sample size. An interview guide was used to collect the data. Demographic data were analyzed by EPI Info 7 and qualitative data by thematic analysis.

Acts of violence in hospitals are perceived as the use of intense and brutal force that affects the physical and/or moral integrity of others. The forms of violence cited include physical, moral, verbal, and psychological violence. The most frequently cited reasons for the violence were: negligence, the insolence of the nurse, abandonment of the patient without care or information, care not explained and not mentioned in the care booklet, lack of speed in care, insufficient communication about the illness of a relative and ineffective care despite the patient’s fatigue. According to the participants, the circumstances that could lead individuals to do violence to nursing staff on duty include theft of medicines, contempt, rudeness, negligence in care, late care, abandonment of patients and poor hospital hygiene, refusal to answer questions, deception or professional incompetence, lack of welcome, attempts to extort or overcharge for prescriptions, and swindling and adultery. The consequences of violence mentioned in the responses mainly included: fighting, injuries, as well as staff reluctance, low hospital attendance, self-medication, and loss of life. Most respondents did not know or had no idea about legal sanctions after an act of violence, but one response mentioned the existence of sanctions such as police custody and blame.

Violence in hospitals is a major problem that can have serious consequences for patients, health care staff, and the health care system. The reasons given for the violence highlight the importance of clear and effective communication between patients and healthcare staff, as well as prompt and quality medical care.

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