Homicides of psychologists, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, and other health professionals: National Violent Death Reporting System data 2003–2020

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Homicide is the extreme endpoint along the continuum of interpersonal violence. Violence in healthcare settings and directed toward healthcare workers has been a growing concern. Analysis of health professionals' homicides is needed to inform prevention interventions. Methods: Decedent numbers, age, and sex in the National Violent Death Reporting System are reported for 10 types of health professionals: advance practice registered nurses, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, physicians, physician assistants, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and veterinarians. Results: Between 2003 and 2020, 944 homicides of these professionals were reported to the NVDRS. Nearly 80% of victims were women; 53% of homicides involved guns. Nurses, social workers, physicians, and pharmacists comprised the most victims. In 2020, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, and psychologists had the highest homicide rates relative to their workforce size. Few of these homicides were related to professionals' work. The number of homicides within these professions correlated highly with the size of professions' workforces. Conclusions: Health professionals' homicides constitute a small proportion of US homicides generally at lower rates than seen in the general population. Age is likely one of the protective factors. Future, more comprehensive data will provide greater insights into emerging trends to inform strategies to mitigate homicide risk in health professionals. Prevention needs to go beyond healthcare settings and address societal roots of violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2932-2946
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of clinical psychology
Volume79
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Journal of Clinical Psychology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.

Keywords

  • health professional
  • homicide
  • nurse
  • physician
  • psychologist

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

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