Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Department of Family Medicine

Over a five-year period, our research team partnered with the Detroit Medical Center (DMC) on a project that aimed to develop and evaluate data-driven methods for reducing workplace violence. The study was designed as a randomized controlled intervention. The intervention, a work site walk-through, was conducted on 21 intervention units, where researchers presented 3 years of unit-level workplace violence data for unit supervisors. Based on their unit’s data, supervisors and staff developed an Action Plan for violence prevention. No walk-through intervention was conducted on the 20 control units.

Six months post-intervention, the risk of violent events was significantly lower on intervention units compared with controls. At 24 months, the risk of injury due to violence was significantly lower on intervention units, compared with controls.

This is the first large-scale, randomized controlled study to demonstrate positive effects over time of an intervention aimed at reducing patient-to-worker violence. The methods developed in this project for workplace violence surveillance, risk assessment and prevention can be integrated into the everyday working life of health care organizations and have the potential to improve hospital worker health and safety nationwide.