A GNYHA webinar on unit-based interventions to prevent and mitigate workplace violence featured presentations by two renowned experts.

Judith Arnetz, PhD, Professor and Associate Chair for Research in Michigan State University’s Department of Family Medicine, emphasized the importance of embracing both top-down management support and bottom-up autonomy and flexibility. Dr. Arnetz discussed why the importance of unit-level interventions and how to carry them out. She also detailed principles of unit-level intervention based on her extensive research: interventions should be data-driven and ongoing, supported by easy-to-use tools, and have strong management support, meaning they are part of broader organizational policies and structures. In addition, Dr. Arnetz shared the details and results of an intervention at a large Michigan health system.

Barbara Koll described recent efforts at Lifespan, a large, integrated health system in Rhode Island. Ms. Koll is Partner, Management and Leadership Development, Talent Development, and Employee Experience in Lifespan’s Human Resources Department. Lifespan launched action teams to address problems, including a lack of day-to-day civility, raised by employees via surveys and focus groups. She also discussed how Lifespan has improved civility within its ranks. Using an algorithm developed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Lifespan measured civility on all units, and then categorized each unit as having high, medium, or low civility. Through additional unit-by-unit interactions, project leaders next identified key factors contributing to incivility and key civility drivers. Using this data, Lifespan is now addressing operational challenges such as broken equipment, unit-level staffing complements, and interpersonal communication problems. Lifespan also has empowered units and unit leadership to address areas of concern.

Both speakers also discussed the resulting benefits of unit-based efforts to prevent violence and aggression, including improved patient care and better employee satisfaction and retention. Materials from the webinar and all previous Learning Series sessions are here.