Physical assault by patients against physiotherapists working in mental health settings

Brendon Stubbs*, Geoff Dickens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: There is a lack of empirical research about physical assault by patients against physiotherapists who work in mental health settings. This study aimed to ascertain the lifetime prevalence and 12-month incidence of assault by patients against physiotherapists in UK mental health settings. This research will inform the development of pre- and post-registration training programmes for physiotherapists. Design: Postal questionnaire survey. Participants: Members of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists' special interest group for physiotherapists working in the field of psychiatry. Main outcome measures: Self-reported experience of physical assault by patients. Secondary outcome was self-reported training received to manage violent and aggressive patients. Results: Questionnaires were returned by 116/178 (65%) special interest group members. Fifty-one percent (59/116) reported that they had been assaulted at work during their career, and 24% (28/116) had been assaulted by a patient in the previous 12 months. Physiotherapists in mental health settings appear to be at greater risk of assault by patients than other non-nursing clinicians. Conclusions: Physiotherapists who work in mental health are at similar risk of physical assault by patients as their nursing colleagues, who are required by the UK Nursing and Midwifery Council to receive education and training in the prevention and management of aggression and violence in their pre-registration training. The authors recommend that appropriate training should be included in pre-registration programmes for physiotherapists. Crown

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-175
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2009
Externally publishedYes


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