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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 45  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 108-109

Physical violence against doctors: A content analysis from online Indian newspapers

Department of Community Medicine, Sri Manakula Vinayagar Medical College and Hospital, Puducherry, India

Date of Submission25-May-2019
Date of Acceptance18-Nov-2019
Date of Web Publication14-Jan-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Vinayagamoorthy Venugopal
Department of Community Medicine, Sri Manakula Vinayagar Medical College and Hospital, Puducherry - 605 001
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijcm.IJCM_215_19

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How to cite this article:
Madhivanan A, Venugopal V, Dongre AR. Physical violence against doctors: A content analysis from online Indian newspapers. Indian J Community Med 2020;45:108-9

How to cite this URL:
Madhivanan A, Venugopal V, Dongre AR. Physical violence against doctors: A content analysis from online Indian newspapers. Indian J Community Med [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jan 18];45:108-9. Available from: https://www.ijcm.org.in/text.asp?2020/45/1/108/275963


Violence against doctors, which are frequently reported in newspapers, has intimidatingly increased all over the world including India. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), health workers suffer from physical violence between 8% and 38% at some point of time in their careers.[1] The Indian Medical Association report (2015) says more than 75% of doctors had faced violence at work.[2] In spite of various laws and safety measures, continuing attacks on doctors pose a great threat to the health-care system of the community and yet remains under-reported. Since media helps to shape the understanding of the general public on a given issue, a descriptive content analysis of news on physical violence against doctor was done.[3]

The top ten English national daily newspapers of Indian Readership Survey 2017 with online versions were selected to extract standard reliable information on violence against doctors at workplace during January 01, 2017–December 31, 2017, using Google and official website search. The standard WHO definition of workplace violence was utilized.[4] We found 93 reported incidents of doctor–patient violence in India during the year 2017, of which, 18% were reported from Maharashtra followed by 11% from Karnataka. Of these 93 incidents, 155 health professionals were attacked including 125 (81%) doctors, 10 (6.5%) staff nurses, and 20 (13%) other health personnel. Further time-, place-, and person-related characteristics of violence that were reported in the newspaper are given in [Table 1].
Table 1: Time, place and person characteristics of violence against doctors that were reported in the online national newspaper, 2017

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Nearly 50% of the incidents happened during the delivery of emergency services. Patient relatives and visitors were identified as perpetrators in 73% incidents, among them 70% were males and more than two perpetrators were involved in 40% events. Of the reported 93 incidents, 10% were simple injury, 9% were grievous, whereas 82% were not reported. Shockingly, two doctors were even killed.

The most common reasons attributed to violence were intolerance to news of patient's death in 26% incidents, alleged delay in treatment in 17% events, poor communication and substance use among caregivers in 9% events each. In-hospital management issues, 6% were due to inadequate specialists and facilities.

We found that type of injury was not reported in 82% of incidents, whereas the previous study by Ranjan et al. found it to be only 6%.[5] This might be due to differential reporting patterns among national and local newspapers included in the study. The reasons identified by our work were almost same as reported by a previous study conducted at a tertiary care hospital of New Delhi.[6]

The present may not offer the complete representative picture of the situation; however, it has generated the findings, which aligns with the current recommendations in health professionals training.

In conclusion, doctors of younger age, working in the Government hospital setting, involved in provision of emergency health services during odd working hours were attacked commonly by patient relatives. Measures to safeguard these risk groups and to avoid such risk factors need to be formulated and implemented strictly. The care-giver's emotional turmoil, perception of delayed treatment and poor communication skills of the service providers were found to be the common reasons. Most of the reported reasons for such violence were preventable. Hence, it is recommended that senior doctors should accompany juniors on all working hours to manage emergency crisis. Health Professions Education should emphasis heavily on importance of communication skills, ethical practice, patient's rights, and professionalism throughout their training program. Hospital management should support doctors and ensure all safety measures including an action protocol for mob violence. Media also has the responsibility in being neutral and disseminating the information about doctor-patient relationship. Reporting the full details of any mishap and their consequences of after events avoid misconception of public about health personnel.


We sincerely acknowledge the Institutional Ethics Committee and Research Committee for providing permission and support to carry out the study.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

World Health Organization. World Health Organization Report. Violence against Health workers. World Health Organization; 2018. Available from: http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/workplace/en/. [Last accessed on 2019 May 24].  Back to cited text no. 1
Over 75% of Doctors Have Faced Violence at Work, Study Finds | India News – Times of India. Available from: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Over-75-of-doctors-have- faced-violence-at-work-study-finds/articleshow/47143806.cms. [Last accessed on 2019 May 24].  Back to cited text no. 2
Stemler S. An overview of content analysis. Pract Assess Res Eval 2001;7:1-6. Available from: http://pareonline.net/getvn.asp?v=7&n=17. [Last accessed on 2019 May 24].  Back to cited text no. 3
World Health Organization. World Report on Violence and Health: Summary. World Health Organization; 2002. Available from: http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/world_report/en/summary_en.pdf. [Last accessed on 2019 May 24].  Back to cited text no. 4
Ranjan R, Meenakshi, Singh M, Pal R, Das JK, Gupta S. Epidemiology of violence against medical practitioners in a developing country (2006-2017). J Health Res Rev 2018;5:153-60.  Back to cited text no. 5
  [Full text]  
Kumar M, Verma M, Das T, Pardeshi G, Kishore J, Padmanandan A. A study of workplace violence experienced by doctors and associated risk factors in a tertiary care hospital of South Delhi, India. J Clin Diagn Res 2016;10:LC06-10.  Back to cited text no. 6


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