Table of Contents
International Journal of Family Medicine
Volume 2010, Article ID 387202, 6 pages
Research Article

Monthly Incidence Rates of Abusive Encounters for Canadian Family Physicians by Patients and Their Families

1Family Medicine Teaching Unit, Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital, Dalhousie University, 700 Priestman Street, P.O. Box 9000, Fredericton, NB, Canada E3B 5N5
2National Research System (NaReS), College of Family Physicians of Canada, 2630 Skymark Avenue, Mississauga, ON, Canada L4W 5A4
3Membership Department, College of Family Physicians of Canada, 2630 Skymark Avenue, Mississauga, ON, Canada L4W 5A4
4Department of Family Medicine, University of Alberta, 901 College Plaza, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2C8
5West Winds Primary Health Centre, Department of Academic Family Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, 3311 Fairlight Drive, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7M 3Y5

Received 24 August 2010; Accepted 19 October 2010

Academic Editor: Roar Johnsen

Copyright © 2010 Baukje (Bo) Miedema et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objective. The goal of this study was to examine the monthly incidence rates of abusive encounters for family physicians in Canada. Methods. A 7-page cross-sectional survey. Results. Of the entire study sample ( 𝑁 = 7 2 0 ), 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. Conclusion. 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.