Previous studies have shown that 17 to 60% of psychiatric trainees have been physically or verbally assaulted. To measure the frequency of assaults and the trainees' reactions, we conducted a retrospective self-reported survey of attendees at MRCPsych teaching courses in south London and at an annual meeting of psychiatric trainees.
Overall, 64% of the questionnaires distributed were returned completed. Of the trainees who responded, 41% had been physically assaulted at least once and 89% had been verbally assaulted. As a result of the assault, 34% of trainees were subsequently more risk aware and 11% were now hesitant to assess patients with a history of violence. There was no association between the level of training or attendance at a breakaway training course and having been subject to physical assault.
Our study showed unacceptable levels of physical and verbal assault on psychiatric trainees and an important effect of those incidents on clinical practice.
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