Work-related threats and violence and post-traumatic symptoms in four high-risk occupations: short- and long-term symptoms

  • Lars Peter AndersenEmail author
  • Annie Hogh
  • Ask Elklit
  • Johan Hviid Andersen
  • Karin Biering
Original Article



To examine the associations between exposure to work-related violence and threats and subsequent PTSD among males and females in four high-risk occupations in human service work. Furthermore, we examined the modifying effect of coping style and self-efficacy.


Questionnaire data were collected in 2011 and in 2015 from 2678 employees working in psychiatric wards, in the elder sector, in special schools and in the Prison and Probation Service (PPS). Exposure to work-related violence and threats was measured in 2011, while PTSD was measured in 2011 and 2015 by the Impact of Event Scale-Revised. To assess the associations, logistic regression was conducted, adjusted for bullying, sexual harassment, negative acts, conflicts at work, other private traumas and baseline PTSD.


There was an association between work-related threats and PTSD in 2011 and 2015. Furthermore, there was an association between work-related violence and PTSD in 2011. The associations were strongest in the PPS. Male staff had a higher risk for PTSD. Neither coping style nor self-efficacy did modify the associations between exposure to work-related violence and threats and subsequent PTSD.


The prevention of PTSD following work-related violence and threats should first of all be based on reducing the risk of work-related violence. In addition, supervisors should be trained to detect symptoms of PTSD after exposure to traumatic events.


Work-related violence and threats PTSD Self-efficacy Coping Human service sectors 



This work was supported by the Danish Environmental Research Fund (grant number 14-2014-03).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors. This study was conducted based on approval from the Danish Data Protection Agency, journal # 2014-331-0925 and under their rules of data protection.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Occupational MedicineRegional Hospital West JutlandHerningDenmark

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