Wounding Words: Swearing and Verbal Aggression in an Inpatient Setting

Authors

  • Teresa Stone RN, RMN, BA, MHealth Management, PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Teresa Stone, RN, RMN, BA, MHealth Management, PhD, is the program convenor for the Bachelor of Nursing;
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  • Margaret McMillan RN, BA, M Curr St (hons), PhD, OAM,

    Corresponding author
    1. Margaret McMillan, RN, BA, M Curr St (Hons), PhD, OAM, is a Conjoint Professor;
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  • Michael Hazelton RN, BA, MA, PhD,

    1. Michael Hazelton, RN, BA, MA, PhD, is Professor of Mental Health Nursing; University of Newcastle—Nursing and Midwifery, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia; and
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  • Edward H. Clayton BRurSci, PhD

    1. Edward Clayton, BRurSci (Hons) PhD, is a Livestock Research Officer with Industry & Investment NSW at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia.
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Author contact:teresa.stone@newcastle.edu.au; margaret.mcmillan@newcastle.edu.au, with a copy to the Editor: gpearson@uchc.edu

Abstract

PURPOSE:  The aim of the research was to investigate swearing and verbal aggression in Australian inpatient settings, including incidence, gender, patient motivation, and nursing interventions.

DESIGN AND METHODS:  A mixed methods approach utilizing the Overt Aggression Scale and a survey of 107 nurses' perceptions of their experience of swearing was used.

FINDINGS:  High levels of swearing and verbal aggression were found, with differing patterns for male and female patients. Nurses subjected to swearing experienced high levels of distress, especially females. All nurses appeared to use a limited range of interventions to deal with patient aggression.

PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS:  In order to provide optimal care for patients, there is a clear need to improve nurses' ability to predict and prevent aggression.

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