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Keywords:

  • impact;
  • nursing;
  • policy;
  • violence;
  • workplace

This paper reports on workplace violence, self-reported as part of a survey among members of the Queensland Nurses’ Union (QNU) in October 2001. The aim of the overall study was to ascertain how nurses perceived their work and their working conditions and to use the results of the study to inform strategic planning of the QNU. The participants of this study were drawn from a stratified random sample of 2800 QNU members employed in the public, the private acute and the aged care sectors. The total number of completed surveys analysed was 1436: 441 aged care, 497 public and 498 private acute sector surveys. The results suggest that the rate of workplace violence differs significantly across sectors. In the three months immediately prior to the survey, 50% of aged care sector nurses experienced some form of workplace violence compared to 47% of public sector nurses and 29% of acute private sector nurses. The major source of workplace violence was from patients. The second most common source of violence varied. Nurses in the public sector signified visitors and relatives while nurses in the aged care and acute private sectors indicated other nurses. The study found that inexperienced nurses are more likely to report workplace violence than experienced nurses. Additionally, the more experienced the nurse, the less likely they are to perceive workplace policies and procedures for workplace violence as effective. Additional findings include an apparent lack of policies and procedures for workplace violence in rural and remote areas, and an association between the designation of a nurse and the reported level of workplace violence.