Violence Against Nurses

Nurses who worked in the emergency department and mental health units reported the highest mean number of violent incidents per staff member, followed by those in the medical and restorative areas. Overall, nurses reported an average of 2 to 46 incidents a year.

A 2010 study found that 75% of the nurses had been involved in 1 or more incidents of workplace violence in the last 12 months and reported a total of 2354 incidents. A fourth of the respondents said they had experienced violent incidents weekly, 27% monthly, and 25% once every 6 months; 23% reported they had never experienced any violence.

More Than Half Experienced Physical Assault


Virtually all of the nurses surveyed reported experiencing verbal abuse, 69% had been physically threatened, and 52% had been physically assaulted in the year before the survey. Violent events were perpetrated regardless of the nurses’ age, educational qualifications, years of experience, and sex.

The nurses said they did not report the violent episodes because they considered such events to be part of the job and because they “happen all the time.”

J Clin Nurs. 2010;19:479-488.

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