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Int J Family Med. 2010;2010:387202. doi: 10.1155/2010/387202. Epub 2010 Nov 11.

Monthly incidence rates of abusive encounters for canadian family physicians by patients and their families.

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Family Medicine Teaching Unit, Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital, Dalhousie University, 700 Priestman Street, P.O. Box 9000, Fredericton, NB, Canada E3B 5N5.



The goal of this study was to examine the monthly incidence rates of abusive encounters for family physicians in Canada.


A 7-page cross-sectional survey.


Of the entire study sample (N = 720), 29% of the physicians reported having experienced an abusive event in the last month by a patient or patient family member. Abusive incidents were classified as minor, major, or severe. Of the physician participants who reported having been abused, all reported having experienced a minor event, 26% a major, and 8% a severe event. Of the physicians who experienced an abusive event, 55% were not aware of any policies to protect them, 76% did not seek help, and 64% did not report the abusive event.


Family physicians are subjected to significant amounts of abuse in their day-to-day practices. Few physicians are aware of workplace policies that could protect them, and fewer report abusive encounters. Physicians would benefit from increased awareness of institutional policies that can protect them against abusive patients and their families and from the development of a national policy.

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