Unreported workplace violence in nursing


  • A. Kvas RN, BSC, PhD,

    Chair of Nursing Division
    1. Nursing Department, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ljubljana, Slovenia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • J. Seljak PhD

    Independent Researcher, Corresponding author
    1. Faculty of Administration, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia
    • Correspondence address: Janko Seljak, Faculty of Administration, Gosarjeva Ulica 5, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana 1000, Slovenia; Tel: +38641-99-84-99; Fax: +38615-80-55-21; E-mail: janko.seljak@kabelnet.net.

    Search for more papers by this author

  • Funding: This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
  • Conflict of Interest: No conflict of interest has been declared by the authors.



Workplace violence occurs on a frequent basis in nursing. Most violent acts remain unreported. Consequently, we do not know the actual frequency of the occurrence of workplace violence. This requires research of nurses’ actions following workplace violence and identification of reasons why most victims do not report violent acts in the appropriate manner.


To explore violence in nursing as experienced by nurses in Slovenia.


A survey was carried out with a representative sample of nurses in Slovenia. The questionnaire Workplace Violence in Nursing was submitted to 3756 nurses, with 692 completing the questionnaire.


A total of 61.6% of the nurses surveyed had been exposed to violence in the past year. Most victims were exposed to psychological (60.1%) and economic violence (28.9%). Victims reported acts of violence in formal written form in a range from 6.5% (psychological violence) to 10.9% (physical violence). The largest share of victims who did not report violence and did not speak to anyone about it were victims of sexual violence (17.9%). The main reason for not reporting the violence was the belief that reporting it would not change anything, followed by the fear of losing one's job.


Only a small share of the respondents reported violence in written form, the main reason being the victims’ belief that reporting it would not change anything. This represents a severe criticism of the system for preventing workplace violence for it reveals the failure of response by leadership structures in healthcare organizations.

Implications for Nursing and Health Policy

Professional associations and the education system must prepare nurses for the prevention of violence and appropriate actions in the event of violent acts. Healthcare organizations must ensure the necessary conditions for enabling and encouraging appropriate actions following violent acts according to relevant protocols.