The feeling of prevention triggers the tendency to violence

The tension triggered by the COVID-19 epidemic among patients, relatives and other healthcare professionals increased the violence against healthcare professionals. Clinical Psychologist Ünal Erdem Elli, who evaluated the fact that the rates of violence in health reached the highest level of the last 11 years in the first 6 months of 2020, said: "During the pandemic process, an increase is observed due to the emergence of feelings of frustration in people in general.”

The feeling of prevention triggers the tendency to violence

The Family Medicine Workers Union (AHESEN) announced that the rates of violence in health reached the highest level in the last 11 years in the first 6 months of 2020. Violence in health is most common in family health centers and emergencies that provide primary health care. Clinical Psychologist from Istanbul Gelisim University Ünal Erdem Elli, who made a statement on the subject, stated that people tend to violence as a result of the feeling of frustration, “People learn that they have lost their relatives without seeing them, this is an angering situation in itself. There is an experience in which people cannot reach their relatives and feel blocked. In our statements on violence in general, we say that prevention is an important trigger.”


Stating that the increase in violence is also seen in the family, social events and traffic, Elli said: “One of the situations that we cannot gain awareness about the pandemic process is that the virus separates people from their relatives. When people find out that their relatives are positive, they cannot get closer. Therefore, as in many forms of violence, those who lost their relatives also show a tendency towards violence. Another important point is that our people are not aware that it is normal for our people to experience these feelings and they think that their reactions to healthcare professionals are acceptable.”


Mentioning that the white code system helps in reporting the violent incidents in the health sector quickly, but this system also requires severe sanctions against the perpetrators, Elli said: “The white code system is a well-intentioned initiative. They can get their white code by dialing 113 'over a phone, or a unique platform has been created by the judiciary to handle it separately from other judicial processes when they are faced with an incident of violence by making a notification about it via”

Stating that the occupancy rates of emergency services and hospitals have increased due to the pandemic and family physicians working in these places are exposed to primary violence, Elli said: “The relative of a patient who has applied to the emergency department is experiencing many concerns. Due to the pandemic process, the capacities of the hospitals are intense compared to the normal process. Patient relatives may think that they are not getting the answer they expected too much. In this case, we can understand that the person feels anger. There is a serious difference between feeling anger and being resorting to violence. First of all, we need to make this distinction and make society aware of this distinction. Of course, the first family physicians they meet or the paramedics who come across in the emergency room are unfortunately the masses that get the heaviest share of this. If we talk about the pandemic, there is a situation we need to take into account. Sometimes the relatives of the patients confront us with the result of applying the heat of the event and the anger they experience to people who first encounter them there, especially those they think cannot respond. This highlights the importance of strict sanctions.”


Stating that healthcare professionals work by spending intense shifts under difficult conditions during the pandemic process and this situation pushes healthcare workers into a depressive state, Elli said: “When we look at the healthcare professionals, we are faced with another picture. Health workers are in a very worn situation. They have been working under very difficult conditions and intensely for a long time. As psychologists, we call this situation burnout, the clinical equivalent of burnout is depression. In fact, many of them are in a depressive mood. This is a situation that affects them in many areas. Health workers may also have a reduced tolerance. They may feel tired and exhausted. Moreover, this has great effects on working performance. Therefore, in order to protect healthcare professionals, both the authorities and the forces that will organize it must take a much more active role in protecting them. We also need to raise this awareness to the society.”


Indicating that verbal violence stands out at the forefront of violent tendencies and that most of these violence are not reported, Elli concluded his words with the following: “One of the main difficulties of studies on violence in general is that physical violence can be turned into a judicial process when it is visible, but verbal violence is often ignored. Verbal violence is not generally reported. The same is true for healthcare workers. The harassment and verbal violence they suffer tend to increase like all other types of violence. Verbal violence is always more difficult to prevent than other acts of violence. First of all, we need to make it feel that the obvious, concrete responses of violence are faced with real sanctions.”

Edited date: 07.10.2020
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