Violence against health care providers: a mixed-methods study from Karachi, Pakistan

Document Type



Medical College Pakistan


Background: Violence against health care providers (HCPs) remains a significant public health problem in developing countries, affecting their performance and motivation.
Objectives: To report the quantity and perceived causes of violence committed upon HCPs and identify strategies intended to prevent and de-escalate it.
Methods: This was a mixed-methods concurrent study design (QUAN-QUAL). A structured questionnaire was filled in on-site by trained data collectors for quantitative study. Sites were tertiary care hospitals, local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) providing health services, and ambulance services. Qualitative data were collected through in-depth interviews and focus group discussions at these same sites, as well as with other stakeholders including media and law enforcement agencies.
Results: One-third of the participants had experienced some form of violence in the last 12 months. Verbal violence was experienced more frequently (30.5%) than physical violence (14.6%). Persons who accompanied patients (58.1%) were found to be the chief perpetrators. Security staff and ambulance staff were significantly more likely to report physical violence (p = 0.001). Private hospitals and local NGOs providing health services were significantly less likely to report physical violence (p = 0.002). HCPs complained about poor facilities, heavy workload, and lack of preparedness to deal with violence. The deficiencies highlighted predominantly included inadequate security and lack of training to respond effectively to violence. Most stakeholders thought that poor quality of services and low capacity of HCPs contributed significantly to violent incidents. Conclusion: There is a great need to design interventions that can help in addressing the behavioral, institutional, and sociopolitical factors promoting violence against HCPs. Future projects should focus on designing interventions to prevent and mitigate violence at multiple levels.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Emergency Medicine