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Release: March 6, 2001

UI report calls for national commitment to reduce workplace violence

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A new report released today by the University of Iowa identifies workplace violence as a significant public health problem, affecting 2 million workers each year, and calls for a major research funding initiative to better understand its causes and prevention.

"Workplace Violence: A Report to the Nation," produced by the Injury Prevention Research Center (IPRC) at the UI, was the result of a workshop held last year in Washington, D.C. The workshop, funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), brought together representatives of industry, labor, academia and government to identify areas within the problem of workplace violence that are not well understood. These areas include data collection to better understand the extent of the problem, and evaluation of the effectiveness of prevention strategies that have been developed in some industries and in some regions of the country.

James Merchant, M.D., Dr.P.H., dean of the UI College of Public Health, spearheaded the effort that produced this report. "We have been viewing the problem of workplace violence too narrowly, and in so doing, we've not been able to get on top of it," Merchant said. "It's not just a crime issue, or a private industry issue, or a labor issue. It's a much broader public health problem.

"Unfortunately, we really do not understand very well what works, and what doesn't, to prevent workplace violence. It's time for us to make a national commitment to reduce the toll of violence on American workers, and that commitment has to begin with good, solid research."

Participants in the April 2000 workshop also produced five position papers outlining specific concerns from the perspectives of researchers, regulators, labor union activists and business administrators. These papers, which address in greater detail the issues raised in the "Report to the Nation," appear in the February 2001 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Funding for the workshop was provided by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC). Both of these centers are part of the CDC.

Copies of "Workplace Violence: A Report to the Nation," are available from the UI Injury Prevention Research Center at, or by calling (319) 335-4415.