Abstract This article characterizes the problem of violence against health professionals in the workplace (VAHPITWP) in selected settings in Portugal. It addresses the questions of what types of violence are most frequent and who are the most affected health professionals. Three methodological approaches were followed: (i) documentary studies, (ii) a questionnaire-based hospital and health centre (HC) complex case study and (iii) semi-structured interviews with stakeholders. Of the different types of violence, all our study approaches confirm that verbal violence is the most frequent. Discrimination, not infrequent in the hospital, seems to be underestimated by the stakeholders interviewed. Violence seems much more frequent in the HC than in the hospital. In the HC, all types of violence are also most frequently directed against female health workers and, in the hospital, against male workers. These studies allow us to conclude that violence is frequent but underreported.