Summary: Client violence in social services is perceived as constantly increasing in Italy, raising deep concern. This article presents the results of the first online survey on the phenomenon. Involving 20,112 social workers, the aim was to determine the prevalence and forms of client violence towards social workers and to identify key factors associated with such events. Findings: The results suggest that the vast majority of Italian social workers experience client violence during their careers. Verbal aggression and threats were most common forms of violence, followed by physical attacks and property damage. Young and less experienced social workers appeared more likely to be victims of violence, as well as those who more frequently work in isolation or without their colleagues’ support. Social workers in child protection services, services for adults and municipality services accessible to the entire population were found to be at higher risk of client violence. The social workers considered the quality of the client/professional relationship and communication skills to be critical in preventing and dealing with aggression by users. Unfulfilled clients’ expectation was considered to be one of the main factors contributing to frustration and the consequent hostile behaviour. Applications: Violence against social workers is a ‘wake-up call’ that makes the weakening of welfare services, and therefore of professional social work, more visible. The first nationwide study on service user violence reported by this paper may significantly contribute to raising awareness about the phenomenon in Italy and to the devising of effective prevention programmes.

Sicora, A., Nothdurfter, U., Rosina, B., & Sanfelici, M. (2022). Service user violence against social workers in Italy: prevalence and characteristics of the phenomenon. JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK, 22(1), 255-274 [10.1177/14680173211009188].

Service user violence against social workers in Italy: prevalence and characteristics of the phenomenon

Sanfelici M
2022

Abstract

Summary: Client violence in social services is perceived as constantly increasing in Italy, raising deep concern. This article presents the results of the first online survey on the phenomenon. Involving 20,112 social workers, the aim was to determine the prevalence and forms of client violence towards social workers and to identify key factors associated with such events. Findings: The results suggest that the vast majority of Italian social workers experience client violence during their careers. Verbal aggression and threats were most common forms of violence, followed by physical attacks and property damage. Young and less experienced social workers appeared more likely to be victims of violence, as well as those who more frequently work in isolation or without their colleagues’ support. Social workers in child protection services, services for adults and municipality services accessible to the entire population were found to be at higher risk of client violence. The social workers considered the quality of the client/professional relationship and communication skills to be critical in preventing and dealing with aggression by users. Unfulfilled clients’ expectation was considered to be one of the main factors contributing to frustration and the consequent hostile behaviour. Applications: Violence against social workers is a ‘wake-up call’ that makes the weakening of welfare services, and therefore of professional social work, more visible. The first nationwide study on service user violence reported by this paper may significantly contribute to raising awareness about the phenomenon in Italy and to the devising of effective prevention programmes.
Articolo in rivista - Articolo scientifico
Scientifica
management; organizational structure; prevention; risk assessment; Social work; social workers;
English
Sicora, A., Nothdurfter, U., Rosina, B., & Sanfelici, M. (2022). Service user violence against social workers in Italy: prevalence and characteristics of the phenomenon. JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK, 22(1), 255-274 [10.1177/14680173211009188].
Sicora, A; Nothdurfter, U; Rosina, B; Sanfelici, M
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10281/369496
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