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Int J Health Serv. 1992;22(2):365-76.

Violence and health: preliminary elements for thought and action.

Author information

1
Pan American Health Organization, Bogotá, Colombia.

Abstract

Violence is one of the most serious problems that society, and the public health sector in particular, has to deal with today. This article begins with a discussion of the concept of violence itself, bringing out its historical and cultural dimensions and emphasizing its essential relationship to the exercise of force in the interest of power under conditions of inequality. Violence must be seen as a process that includes its origins, the conditions that allow it to happen, its different forms of expression, and its individual and collective consequences. The violence-health relationship is seen as having different levels: violence threatens or denies not only health but the entire vital human process. The author analyzes the different forms of violence: violence that impairs health (torture, disappearances, rape, child abuse, elderly abuse) and violence that kills (suicide, homicide, war). Recent data show that the problem is on the increase and pervades everyday life. The author then examines the mechanisms by which violence impinges on health care institutions, especially the health services, training institutions, and agencies responsible for orienting and financing the sector. Finally, the health sector is revealed as not only a victim or patient of violence, but, unfortunately, sometimes an agent of violence, which means that changes are needed in approaches, attitudes, and behavior.

PIP:

This article presents a discussion on violence in its historical and cultural contexts while emphasizing its essential relationship to the exercise of force in the interest of power under conditions of inequality. Violence is not merely the bodily or psychological harm that is caused, or the instance of its materialization; it is a process that includes its origins, the conditions that allow it to happen, its different forms of expression, and its individual and collective consequences. Every violent process that becomes concretized or becomes the norm constitutes an interference in the vital human process in its various instantiations: it threatens life, alters health, produces disease, and presents death as a reality or an immediate possibility. Different forms of violence are analyzed: violence that impairs health (torture, disappearances, rape, child abuse, elderly abuse) and violence that kills (suicide, homicide, war). Recent data show that the problem of violence is increasing and pervades in everyday life. This paper also analyzes the impact of the increasing trend of violence on health institution particularly in health services, training institutions and agencies responsible for orienting and financing these institutions. In conclusion, the health institution is presented not just as a victim of violence, but as an agent as well. Modifications within the health sector are needed in the approach, attitude, and behavior towards violence.

PMID:
1601553
DOI:
10.2190/XE4A-NBNQ-EQ3B-66C5
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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