• Aggression;
  • nursing home;
  • resident;
  • cross-sectional survey


Purpose: Caregivers in nursing homes often experience aggressive behavior of residents. The aim of this study was to explore the caregivers’ experiences with aggressive behavior from residents and to identify environmental factors as well as caregiver and resident characteristics related to aggressive behavior in Swiss nursing homes.

Design: A retrospective cross-sectional survey was conducted between November 2010 and April 2011 with a sample of caregivers working in various nursing homes in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. In total, 814 caregivers (response rate 51.8%) of 21 nursing homes participated in the study.

Methods: Data were collected using the German version of the Survey of Violence Experienced by Staff (SOVES-G-R). Standard descriptive statistics were used to describe and summarize the date. To identify risk factors related to the experience of aggression by residents, multilevel logistic regression analysis was applied.

Findings: The prevalence of participants reporting an aggressive incident during the 12-month period prior to data collection was 81.6%. Of these, 76.5% had experienced verbal aggression, 27.6% threats, and 54.0% physical aggression. The predictive variables in the multiple regression model for physical aggression were: staff education level (odds ratio [OR]= 1.82), gender (OR = 1.82), age (< 30 years vs. 30–45 years: OR = 1.46; < 30 years vs. > 45 years: OR = 2.13), and confidence in managing physical aggression (OR = 1.49). The predictive variables for threatening behavior were staff education level (registered nurses vs. non-registered nurses: OR = 1.70; nonstudent vs. student: OR = 1.89) and age (< 30 years vs. 30–45 years: OR = 2.00; < 30 years vs. > 45 years: OR = 2.04).

Conclusions: Caregivers in nursing homes are at high risk for experiencing aggressive behavior. The identified risk factors are in line with earlier investigations, but some contradictory results also were observed.

Clinical Relevance: The high risk for registered nurses exposed to aggressive behavior and the increased risk for caregivers who feel confident in managing aggressive behavior cast a critical light on the content and aim on present programs for management of aggressive behavior. Caregivers in nursing homes should be qualified in understanding resident aggression in a comprehensive way. A critical point in this topic seems to be the interaction between caregiver and resident during basic care activities. This topic should be investigated in further research projects.