A Canadian study has found that more than two-thirds of paramedics have experienced verbal, physical, or sexual abuse while on the job.

Out of the 1,381 paramedics surveyed in Ontario and Nova Scotia, over 67 percent reported verbal abuse, most commonly by patients or patients’ relatives.

"EMS providers can experience violence in the workplace as they perform their jobs in unpredictable environments and near people in crisis," said Blair Bigham, advanced care flight paramedic for York Region EMS and Ornge, and an associate scientist at Rescu, based at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.

Just over 41 percent of survey respondents reported facing intimidation on the job, mostly by colleagues, and a quarter said they had been physically abused.

"Anecdotal reports and workplace safety records have highlighted cases of verbal, physical and sexual abuse, yet until now, there has been little scientific research. More research is needed to understand the impact of this workplace violence,” said Bigham, who led the study.

The study will be published in the January issue of Prehospital Emergency Care.