Patient violence and health professionals’ occupational outcomes in China: A time-lagged survey study

Yujie Zhan, Su Kyung Kim, Le Zhou, Bo Xie, Yuntao Li, Bei Wen, Lisa Nie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the prevalence of patient violence in China and the association between patient violence and Chinese health professionals’ felt disappointment with their occupations, occupational turnover intention, and word-of-mouth communication. Methods: Data were collected from a convenience sample of 199 Chinese doctors and nurses in the summer of 2016 using two surveys. First, participants reported their experience of patient violence (i.e., physical and non-physical violence). Two weeks later, participants rated their disappointment, occupational turnover intention, and negative occupational word-of-mouth communication. Using path analysis, we examined the mediating role of disappointment in explaining the association between patient violence and health professionals’ occupational turnover intention and word-of-mouth communication. Results: On average, health professionals in the present sample experienced non-physical violence once or twice per month. Non-physical violence was positively related to feeling disappointed with one's occupation, which was in turn positively related to occupational turnover intention and negative word-of-mouth communication. Physical violence was experienced at a much lower rate, and was not correlated with either occupational outcome. Conclusions: Patient violence found in this study was prevalent, especially in terms of non-physical violence. The rates of patient violence were lower than those in previous studies conducted in China, reflecting potential differences between the present study and earlier studies in study sites, sample composition, measurements, and timing of studies. Nonetheless, our findings show that patient violence can be related to health professionals’ intention to leave their occupation and negative word-of-mouth communication regarding their occupation. These findings call for interventions to reduce health professionals’ turnover, improve their work conditions and quality-of-life, and subsequently improve the patient-provider relationship and the quality of patients’ care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-130
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
StatePublished - Jun 2019

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • Disappointment
  • Occupational turnover intention
  • Occupational word-of-mouth communication
  • Patient violence


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