Workplace violence is increasingly recognised as an important occupational health issue in Taiwan. This study provides with an overview of the problem and policy debates concerning workplace violence in Taiwan, and presents empirical findings on its distributions, trends, antecedents and associated health risks based on survey data of the general working population.
We utilised cross-sectional data from the surveys conducted in 2010 and 2013. The questionnaire included items which assessed the experiences of workplace violence encountered over the previous 12 months, including physical violence, verbal violence, psychological violence and sexual harassment.
Results showed that workplace violence in the forms of physical violence, verbal violence, psychological violence and sexual harassment had increased markedly from 2010 to 2013. In general, women were more likely than men to experience workplace violence. In health care sectors, women had particularly higher prevalence rates of workplace violence than men, which may attribute to a greater gender inequality in health care settings. Results from multilevel analyses with adjustment of workers’ actual experiences of workplace violence showed that neighbourhood-level workplace violence was positively associated with mental health risks in women but not in men.
These findings suggested that working in an environment where aggressive or abusive behaviours are more prevalent may entail a greater mental health risk to women. Research improvement should be made in many aspects, ranging from the measures for workplace violence, study designs to investigate the casual mechanisms of workplace violence and health consequences, to the strategies for effective prevention. Furthermore, as the nature of workplace violence are embedded in social context, researchers and occupational health practitioners should pay attention to contextual factors that might influence societal tolerance of abusive work practices and workers’ vulnerability to health impacts of workplace violence.
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