An Australian Institute of Criminology report (1999) highlighted the health industry as the most violent industry in Australia with registered nurses recording the second highest number of violence. related workers compensation claims, ranking higher than prison and police officers. Workplace violence has become such a common phenomenon that many nurses accept it as a part of nursing. Nurses employed in emergency departments (EDs) are considered to be especially vulnerable to workplace violence. Although there have been a number of studies reporting on the incidence of workplace violence and its consequences upon nurses, to date there have been no empirical studies that have evaluated interventions which are thought to reduce its occurrence and impact. This study investigated the effectiveness of a oneday training program in which ED nurses participated. In particular, their knowledge, skiUs and attitudes relating to management of workplace violence were examined. Results show that a training program has many positive outcomes which enhance nurses' ability to manage aggressive behaviours. With some basic training, ED nurses can be more prepared to manage violent and potentially violent situations, and by doing so may in fact reduce the incidence of aggression in their workplace by 50%. This has largely been achieved by raising the awareness of ED nurses to the nature of the problem, developing their knowledge and skills in managing aggressive behaviour, and improving their attitudes toward potentially violent patients.
Aggression within the health industry has been wideiy reported as a serious problem with registered nurses frequently being on the receiving end of physical, verbal and sexual abuse. Some authors have reported aggression is so prevalent nurses accept it as part of their job. What has not been recorded is the impact of workplace aggression on the professional and emotional status of nurses as reported by nurses themselves. This study utilized a phenomenological approach involving in-depth interviews and thematic analysis to gain insights into how 33 nurses responded to workplace aggression. Three shared themes, professional incompetency, expectation to cope and emotional confusion, which encapsulate the meanings conveyed by nurses to being victims of aggression were identified. The themes serve to remind both individual nurses and the nursing profession as awhole to become more aware of the impact of workplace aggression and its relevance for themselves, their colleagues and the profession. Thus, nurses should be educated through in-service or continuing education programs that admission to negative emotions is acceptable and to develop coping strategies that deal effectively with their feelings of anger or frustration. Perhaps the most important implication emanating from this investigation is that the profession as awhole should become aware of the extent of the problem and the role nurse colleagues, nurse managers and medical staff play in its genesis.