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Verbal abuse in the National Health Service: impressions of the prevalence, perceived reasons for and relationships with staff psychological well-being


Aim: To investigate the prevalence, perceived causes and relationship to psychological well-being of verbal abuse in a National Health Service (NHS) ambulance service control room (ASCR).

Method: Questionnaire survey with ASCR personnel (n = 48).

Results: 7% of calls per shift were verbally abusive; the most common sources were patients or emergency callers. Verbally abusive calls were associated with staff having poorer mental health and the desire to leave.

Conclusion: Support from managers in the form of clear protocols to deal with abusive callers and training in verbal de-escalation techniques are recommended.

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