• lateral violence;
  • nurses;
  • post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • Taiwan;
  • violence;
  • workplace

Aims and objectives.  The purpose of this study was to determine the risk factors and mental health consequences of physical and psychological violence for clinical nurses working in healthcare settings in Taiwan.

Background.  Registered nurses working in hospitals in Taiwan report high incidences of workplace violence. However, previous studies rarely report psychological abuse among nursing staff, while the relationships between personal factors and workplace violence remain unclear.

Design.  This is a cross-sectional study.

Methods.  Participants were invited to complete the Workplace Violence Questionnaire, an instrument designed to assess types of workplace violence (physical violence, verbal abuse, bullying/mobbing and sexual harassment), the characteristics of perpetrators and victims and victims’ reactions to their abuse.

Results.  A total of 521 nurses completed the questionnaire. Of the participants, 102 (19·6%) indicated that they had experienced physical violence, 268 (51·4%) had experienced verbal abuse, 155 (29·8%) had experienced bullying/mobbing and 67 (12·9%) had experienced sexual harassment. Multiple logistic analyses indicated that age under 30 years (odds ratio = 2·4; 95% confidence interval = 1·34–4·46) and anxiety (odds ratio = 4·7; 95% confidence interval = 1·24–18·12) increased the odds of verbal abuse, while bullying was associated with anxiety (odds ratio = 2·7, 95% confidence interval = 1·09–6·93). Night work shift increased the odds of experiencing sexual harassment (odds ratio = 2·3, 95% confidence interval = 1·29–4·16), while physical violence was associated with bachelor’s degree (odds ratio = 2·8, 95% confidence interval = 1·20–6·73). The most serious psychological harm was post-traumatic stress disorder.

Conclusions.  Exposure to psychological violence often has a great impact on clinical nurses.

Relevance to clinical practice.  For violence prevention, interventions should be sensitive to personal factors. Healthcare institutions should initiate counselling programs to help nurses cope with the stress related to workplace violence.