Aim. This study sought to determine the prevalence and characteristics of workplace violence directed at a volunteer sample of nurses at one non-tertiary hospital. Respondents’ reasons for not reporting these incidents were also investigated.
Background. Incidents of workplace violence are increasing worldwide. However, no studies have investigated this phenomenon from the perspective of nurses in Western Australian non-tertiary hospitals.
Method. A survey was distributed to all 332 nurses working in several areas of one non-tertiary hospital in Western Australia to determine their experiences of workplace violence over a 12 month period.
Findings. Of the 113 nurses who agreed to participate in this study, 75% reported experiencing workplace violence in the previous twelve months. When asked about their most recent incident, 50% of the nurses said they had reported it verbally, mostly to more senior staff. Only 16% of the nurses completed an official incident report. Reasons for not reporting included the view that WPV is just part of the job and the perception that management would not be responsive.
Conclusion. This study showed that for this sample of nurses violent events are occurring at a rate that is similar to those reported in other studies. This finding should be of great concern to the organisation and the community in general.
Relevance to clinical practice. Organisations are obliged to improve the safety of the workplace environment for both staff and patients. The findings of our study may be of help to healthcare institutions in developing education programmes for nurses, patients and their friends and relatives to reduce the impact and frequency of workplace violence.