Terrorist Attacks against Healthcare Facilities: A Review

Garrett A. Cavaliere, Reem Alfalasi, Gregory N. Jasani, Gregory R. Ciottone, Benjamin J. Lawner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Healthcare facilities play an essential role in response to terrorist attacks, but they also can be "soft targets"due to their accessibility and limited security. In this review, the authors used the Global Terrorism Database to conduct a search on terrorist attacks directed against hospitals and healthcare facilities between 1970 and 2018. Search terms included "healthcare,""doctor,""nurses,""vaccinators,""clinic,"and "hospital,"which resulted in 2,322 healthcare-related entries. The dataset was then manually searched for attacks on healthcare facilities, resulting in a total of 901 attacks in 74 different countries. The prevalence of healthcare facility attacks has increased, with 57% (515) occurring after 2001. The most common method of attack was bombing, followed by direct attacks on healthcare infrastructure and armed assaults. Healthcare facilities remain vulnerable to violence, and lessons learned in the aftermath of these incidents can be used to raise awareness about important safety-related concerns within the national response framework. Healthcare and security experts must be aware of the vulnerability of this crucial infrastructure and take active steps to prevent attacks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)546-550
Number of pages5
JournalHealth security
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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