WEDNESDAY, June 12, 2019 (HealthDay News) — More than one in five home care (HC) aides report verbal abuse from clients and their family members, according to a study published online June 11 in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Nicole D. Karlsson, from the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, and colleagues used questionnaire survey data collected as part of a larger study to examine verbal abuse among HC aides. Survey responses were obtained from 954 HC aides who reported on verbal abuse from nonfamily clients and their family members.

The researchers found that 22 percent of HC aides reported at least one incident of verbal abuse in the 12 months preceding the survey. In multivariable models, three factors were identified: clients with dementia, homes with too little space for the aide to work, and predictable work hours (relative risks, 1.38, 1.52, and 0.74, respectively). Having clients with limited mobility and an unclear plan for care delivery were also associated with verbal abuse, although the associations for these factors were not statistically significant. Aides who reported verbal abuse were more likely to also report physical abuse (relative risk, 11.53).

“We identified verbal abuse risk factors for which preventive interventions can be implemented,” the authors write. “While the study cannot prove that these factors are causal, all suggested interventions also have benefits for improved care quality and work conditions beyond abuse prevention.”

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