Workplace Violence in the Public Health Sector In Thailand

Rationale / Objectives

Workplace violence in Thailand has received little attention from the public. Many workplace issues need to be addressed. Therefore, the research is aimed at understanding all aspects of workplace violence in the health sector in Thailand.

Project/Program Description & Major Achievements

The research conducted by several worldwide health organizations aimed to identify the experience of occupational violence that has occurred among public health workers in Thailand. Approximately 1000 healthcare workers participated in the study. The authors identify workplace violence as a “hidden danger” in Thailand’s society. Raising awareness as well as building knowledge and positive attitudes among healthcare personnel at all levels is the initial strategy. Initiating prevention programs in each health setting should be encouraged and supported.

Lessons Learned

More than half the interviewees reported that they were victimized at least once in the previous year. Verbal abuse was the most common type of violence experienced, at 47.7% of cases. Among 584 cases of overall violence, 35.8% of health workers were victimized by staff members. Approximately 30% of the victims were victimized by patients/clients. Approximately 91% of the incidents took place in the workplace. Of all the victims, younger males, less experienced staff, night shift workers and reduced shift staff were more likely to experience violence. Physicians and nurses/midwives tended to be physically assaulted by patients suffering from psychiatric illness, neurological disorders, drug/alcohol abuse, and severe labour pain.

People / Organizations Involved

Further Description

In Thailand, it is not uncommon to talk about violence in workplace in daily conversation. There are numbers of cases of physical and verbal workplace violence reported in the media. Furthermore, several issues related to sexual harassment are being addressed in the media.  Nevertheless, people still look at the issues as a personal problem, with little or no public attention. The research done by Sripichyakan, K., Thungpunkum, P. & Supavititpatana, B.  (2003) aimed to raise the awareness in public about workplace violence, especially in healthcare. This research was also a part of the project, “Workplace Violence in the Health Sector: Country Case Studies” initiated by ILO/ICN/WHO/PSI. According to ILO/ICN/WHO/PSI, workplace violence in Thailand’s health sector can be defined as follows: “incidents where staff are abused, threatened, or assaulted by health personnel or non-personnel inside the health settings and/or in circumstances related to their work, involving an explicit or implicit challenge to their safety, well-being, or health.” This study’s goal was to examine the situation, contributing factors, consequences, and management of workplace violence in Thailand’s health sector. The data were collected via a list of questions, one-on-one and focus group interviews given to 1,090 participants in Chiangmai, Thailand who were working in various professional groups including: (1) Representative organizations (2) Private owners of health services (3) Health sector personnel (4) Health authorities (5) Management (6) Patients/clients 3 (7) Occupational health and safety specialists (8) Lawyers. 1

Major Achievements





Those who experienced workplace violence at least once in the previous years - verbal abuse - bullying/mobbing - physical violence - sexual harassment - racial harassment  

54.1%   47.7% 10.8% 10.5% 1.9% 0.7%  


Perpetrator Profiles

35.8 % by staff members

30 % by patients/clients

14.6% by Relatives of patients/clients and external colleagues


Contributing factors of personnel more likely to experience violence included:

  • males, younger in age
  • staff with less working experience
  • personnel working in shifts between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  • having interaction and physical contact with patients/clients, and working in suburban areas
  • poor workplace surroundings and reduction in staff members

Moreover, physicians and nurses/midwives tended to be physically assaulted by patients suffering from psychiatric illness, neurological disorders, drug/alcohol abuse, and severe labour pain. 1