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Keywords:

  • aggression;
  • evaluation;
  • prevention;
  • student;
  • nurse;
  • training;
  • violence

Background.  Workplace violence is acknowledged as a major problem in health care settings and affects staff morale, recruitment, retention and direct health care budgets. Staff training is advocated as the appropriate managerial response, but identifying appropriate training and trainers is difficult and there is little published evidence of training effectiveness. Student nurses are frequent targets of aggression but are less likely to receive specific training.

Aims.  The study considered the application of a model of learning to a 3-day learning unit for diploma-level student nurses on the ‘prevention and management of aggression’. It aimed to measure student outcomes of the unit and gain information about more general issues in evaluating training effectiveness.

Methods.  A repeated measures longitudinal design was used to obtain data from three cohorts of student nurses (3 × 80 approximately) at four time points over an 8-month period. A questionnaire was administered twice before the unit, at its conclusion and approximately 3 months afterwards, following two clinical placements.

Results.  Statistically significant changes were demonstrated in a number of areas, including number of risk factors identified, and five ‘factors’ identified from the questionnaire statements.

Study limitations.  The results refer to one course for student nurses that had many common elements with popular training courses for qualified staff, including inter-personal and breakaway skills. However, restraint skills were not included.

Conclusions.  It is possible to provide training that produces desirable, statistically demonstrable and durable change in knowledge, behaviour, attitudes and confidence using a rigorous longitudinal evaluation research design.