Understanding health outcomes following workplace aggression: A social exchange perspective

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explored health outcomes following workplace aggression among social workers in Israel. Grounded in the social exchange theory, a relationship-based perspective was used to explain the mechanism through which exposure to workplace aggression results in employee outcomes. Reports of employees and managers were analysed with respect to the impact of varied forms of aggressive behaviours perpetrated by clients and co-workers on posttraumatic stress and somatic symptoms. The intervening effects on symptoms of two forms of perceived organisational support, organisational procedural support and interpersonal co-worker support operationalised as team trust were examined. Overall, 548 employees and 89 managers in 31 social services departments completed self-report questionnaires. Results revealed positive associations between exposure to both co-worker and client aggression, and posttraumatic stress and somatic symptoms. Importantly, while perceived organisational support is often equated with social support, this study found that two elements, organisational procedural support and team trust, had differing impacts on somatic and posttraumatic stress symptoms following WPA. Specifically, team trust was negatively associated with symptoms, while organisational procedural support showed no effect. This study has important implications for timely prevention measures to deal with workplace aggressions and valuable directions for future studies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
StatePublished - 14 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research grant by the Israel Ministry of Commerce and Labor. Call for proposals: Preventive action.

Funding Information:
The study was approved by the Israeli Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services and supported by the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labor through a grant. It was approved by the University of Haifa Research Ethics with Human Participants Committee. All respondents gave their informed consent as part of their participation, and no identifying details were requested.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • posttraumatic stress
  • social exchange theory
  • social workers
  • somatic symptoms
  • support
  • workplace aggression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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