Until recently, estimates of the prevalence of workplace violence varied widely and were of dubious credibility. Accurate surveillance of the forms and frequency of workplace violence requires representative sampling procedures and standardized definitions, measures and reporting mechanisms (Peek-Asa et al., 1998). Although the literature contains numerous estimates of the prevalence of workplace violence, the data on which these estimates are based have a number of methodological limitations, precluding the drawing of valid conclusions about the degree to which members of the workforce are exposed to violent behavior.

The Accuracy of Prevalence Estimates

These methodological limitations include, data sources that contain inaccuracies, small and convenience samples that are not representative of a broad or specific population, reporting periods that vary across studies, and inconsistent definitions and operationalizations of workplace violence. In addition, few of the estimates provide data related to demographic, occupational, or other predictors of exposure to the various forms and sources of workplace violence, information that is critical to identifying the workers at greatest risk and developing intervention programs to address and prevent exposure to such behavior.

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