Is social work in Iceland a dangerous profession? Emotional and physical violence towards social workers

Freydís Jóna Freysteinsdóttir*, Björn Már Sveinbjörnsson Brink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to find out whether social workers in Iceland experience emotional and/or physical violence in their job perpetuated by clients during the last six months. A quantitative methodology was used in the form of a questionnaire that was submitted electronically to all members in the Social workers’ association in Iceland. There were 271 participants in this study and the response rate was 54,7%. Of those who participated, 94% were females and 6% were males. The age range of participants was evenly distributed. The average work experience as social workers was 12 years. The results showed that 70.5% of the social workers had experienced emotional violence during the last six months and 5.5% had experienced physical violence during the same time period. The most common example of emotional violence was that a client had yelled at the social worker. The most common type of physical violence was that the client had pushed or pulled the participant forcefully. Younger social workers were more likely to experience emotional violence than older social workers. The more work experience the social workers had, the less emotional violence they had experienced. However, there was not a significant difference between men and women regarding the experience of emotional or physical violence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-505
Number of pages14
JournalNordic Social Work Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
©, Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Other keywords

  • abusive clients
  • Social workers
  • violent clients
  • workplace violence


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