The scope of client aggression toward social workers in Israel

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The phenomenon of client violence toward social workers has been documented in various parts of the world. The goal of this study is to describe the phenomenon and explore the relationship pattern between contextual variables and clients aggression. The study encompassed a sample of 645 workers in 34 municipal social service agencies. Of the entire sample, 80% reported being exposed to some form of aggression at least once over the last 3 months. The findings highlight 2 broad axes related to client aggressiveness: frequency and level of aggression. With respect to frequency, we can discern a continuum running from common types of aggressive behaviors to rare ones. The other axis focuses on the level of aggressiveness used, from minor types of client aggression, such as verbal assaults and threats, increasing to more severe ones, such as property damage, and, finally, to physical injury. The routineness of aggression in the work environment lends it the appearance of being normal, and functioning in such an environment desensitizes social workers to clients aggressiveness. Also examined and discussed are organizational and personal factors that contribute to the aggressive behavior of clients, including seniority, gender, workload, inadequate service conditions, and coworkers aggressive behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)971-985
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma
Issue number9
StatePublished - 21 Oct 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2015 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • client aggression
  • prevalence
  • social workers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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