Types of Workplace Violence

Occupational health researchers have classified workplace violence into the following 4 types (UIIPRC, 2001):

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Type 1: Criminal Intent

In Type 1 violence, the perpetrator has no legitimate relationship to the business or its employees, and is usually committing a crime in conjunction with the violence (robbery, shoplifting, trespassing). For example:

  • a nurse assaulted in the hospital parking garage;
  • a home health care nurse is mugged while conducting a home visit.

In health care settings Type I violence occurs less frequently compared to other types of violence.

Type 2: Customer/Client

Type 2 violence is the most common in healthcare settings. This course considers the customer/client relationship to include patients, their family members, and visitors, and will be referred to as CLIENT-ON-WORKER VIOLENCE. Research shows that this type of violence occurs most frequently in emergency and psychiatric treatment settings, waiting rooms, and geriatric settings, but is by no means limited to these. Prevention of Type 2 violence is a primary focus of this course.

Type 3: Worker-on-Worker

Type 3 violence between coworkers is commonly referred to as lateral or horizontal violence. It includes bullying, and frequently manifests as verbal and emotional abuse that is unfair, offensive, vindictive, and/or humiliating though it can range all the way to homicide. Worker-on-worker violence is often directed at persons viewed as being "lower on the food chain" such as in a supervisor to supervisee or doctor to nurse though incidence of peer to peer violence is also common. This course explores the roots of worker-on-worker violence in healthcare settings.

Type 4: Personal Relationship

In Type 4 violence, the perpetrator has a relationship to the nurse outside of work that spills over to the work environment. For example, the husband of a nurse follows her to work, orders her home and threatens her, with implications for not only this nurse but also for her coworkers and patients. This course does not specifically address Type 4 violence but many of the concepts, techniques and protocols presented here for violence Types 2 and 3 are applicable.

Page last reviewed: February 7, 2020