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Fam Pract. 2006 Jun;23(3):273-8. Epub 2006 Feb 3.

The response of general practitioners to the threat of violence in their practices: results from a qualitative study.

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Discipline of General Practice, School of Medical Practice and Population Health, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle Callaghan, NSW, Australia.



Violence directed towards GPs has been recognized as a significant problem in the UK. In Australian urban general practice, no study has previously examined this topic.


The objective of this study was to investigate the responses of Australian urban GPs to experiences of violence and to perceptions of risk of violence.



A qualitative study of data collected from two sources-focus group discussions and qualitative questionnaire responses. Focus group discussions were audiotaped and transcribed. Questionnaires offered the opportunity for respondents to make qualitative comments. The focus group transcripts and qualitative questionnaire responses were coded independently by members of the research team and subjected to thematic analysis.


Three urban Divisions of General Practice in New South Wales, Australia.


Focus groups were conducted with male and female GPs comprising a range of ages, socio-economic practice catchments and practice structures. Questionnaires were distributed to all GPs in the three divisions.


The GPs in this study perceived themselves as being at significant risk of occupational violence. Despite responses to violence being largely ad hoc and uncoordinated, a coherent schema of GPs' responses to the threat of violence is apparent in the data. This has been characterized as encompassing primary, secondary and tertiary responses, and reflects a continuum of proactive to reactive responses.


The findings will have implications for further research and for policy in the area.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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