Parker J Magin
Occupational violence is well documented
among general practice receptionists,
who are singularly vulnerable because
they are placed in the general practice
‘frontline’. One response to this threat has
been to physically isolate reception staff
from waiting room patients by having a
perspex shield at the reception desk and
a locked door between waiting room and
A qualitative study employing
semistructured interviews, an inductive
approach and a thematic analysis. The
study explored the experiences and
perceptions of three receptionists who
work in a practice with a perspex and
lockdown system, and 16 who work in
practices without these.
Receptionists were universally positive
about the safety measures for reducing
risk. But there was also a view that these
safety measures potentially compromise
the feeling of a practice being patient
centred by alienating patients from staff
and, paradoxically, increasing levels of
patient violence and staff fearfulness.
These safety measures, while viewed
positively by receptionists, may have
adverse effects on patient-staff
relationships and exacerbate violence
and increase staff fearfulness.
General practitioners and their staff are at risk of experiencing violence while they perform their everyday work.1,2 Over a 12 month period, 64% of GPs working in urban New South Wales experience violence at work – ranging from verbal abuse to physical assault.3 Studies of general practice receptionists have demonstrated a career prevalence of violence of 62% in receptionists from the Republic of Ireland,4 and a 68% 12 month prevalence in receptionists in England.5 As it does with GPs, occupational violence has marked effects on receptionists' wellbeing.6 While violence directed toward GPs is well recognised as a significant occupational health issue,7,8 the issue of violence should be conceptualised as a whole-of-practice problem.
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