Workplace Violence Against Nurses

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Overview of the Issue

  • Workplace violence is prevalent in America.
  • Workplace violence affects health and well-being
  • 62% cases against health sector workers
  • 4.5x more likely to experience WV
  • Few states require violence prevention programs (Hartley, Ridenour, Craine, & Morrill, 2015)

Brief History and Importance

  • Growth in demand contributed to WV
  • Violence mainly from patients/family members (Abdellah & Salama, 2017)
  • It might lead to psychological trauma
  • Increases anxiety, stress, fear of incompetence
  • Impaired workplace climate and relationships (OSHA, 2016)

Details and Examples

  • No prevention programs in most states
  • No increased penalty in 8 states (ANA, 2014)
  • Prevention programs limited to private hospitals
  • Higher incidence of VW in public hospitals (Wei, Chiou, Chien, & Huang, 2016)
  • Lack of protection increases anxiety/fear

Potential Implications

  • VW illegal in most settings
  • Low reporting – 23.8% for physical violence (Abdellah & Salama, 2017)
  • Perceived lack of support/protection from hospital
  • Prevention programs to lower incidence
  • A comprehensive approach would increase reporting/action

Effect on Nursing Perspective

  • WV has health and occupational implications
  • WV contributes to existing challenges
  • WV impacts organizational culture and communication
  • WV Influences attitudes of prospective nurses
  • Prevention programs would positively affect the workforce


  • WV – a significant concern for authorities
  • WV has physical, psychological, organizational consequences
  • It affects nurses and the entire HC sector
  • Increased demand – further growth of WV
  • Nationwide prevention of WV is crucial


Overview of the Issue

The Healthcare and Social Assistance sector is the largest industry sector in the U.S., employing around 19 million workers in 2010 (Hartley et al., 2015). That being said, workers of this sector account for over 60 percent of non-fatal workplace violence cases that resulted in days away from work due to injuries and are thus 4.5 times more likely to experience violence than employees in other sectors (Hartley et al., 2015).

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Workplace violence can have adverse effects on the physical and mental health of employees, which makes it an important issue for nursing practice. Nevertheless, only a few states require employers to run violence prevention programs (ANA, 2014). Establishing a comprehensive policy to prevent workplace violence against nurses would help to reduce the number of incidents and improve workplace experiences in the healthcare sector.

Brief History and Importance

The history of workplace violence against nurses is unstudied; however, it is possible that the primary factor that has led to the recent increase in workplace violence against nurses is the growth of demand for health care services. According to Abdellah and Salama (2017), the primary reasons for violence against nurses are long waiting times and failure to meet patient and family expectations.

The growth in demand for health care services contributes to nurses’ workload, thus impairing their ability to provide timely and high-quality services. Apart from physical injuries, workplace violence has immediate and long-term psychological effects, such as trauma, anxiety, and stress (OSHA, 2016). Moreover, nurses who experienced workplace violence report “Fear of returning to work, changes in relationships with coworkers and family, [and] feelings of incompetence, guilt, powerlessness” (OSHA, 2016, p. 22). Thus, workplace violence could also affect organizational climate and quality of service by contributing to tension between patients and nurses, as well as nurses’ stress.

Details and Examples

The vast majority of states do not require hospitals and other institutions to run violence prevention programs (ANA, 2014). Violence prevention programs in other states are usually used in private hospitals and institutions, whereas public hospitals utilize a weaker approach. Consequently, nurses working in public hospitals are far more likely to experience workplace violence than those working in private institutions (Wei et al., 2016). Moreover, eight states do not establish an increased penalty for the assault of nurses or healthcare personnel (ANA, 2014). Such a weak approach to the issue could be potentially damaging, as it might increase nurses’ feelings of powerlessness and anxiety following the incident.

Potential Implications

Workplace violence is illegal in most settings, which allows nurses to seek legal action against the offender. However, one of the key issues is that the majority of workplace violence cases go unreported, which means that the offender is not penalized in any way. For instance, according to Abdellah & Salama (2017), “Only 29.5% of HCWs who experienced verbal violence and 23.8% of who experienced physical violence reported it to hospital authority” (p. 1). One of the reasons for this could be the perceived reluctance of the hospital authority to protect the workers. Comprehensive violence prevention programs, on the other hand, could not only prevent cases of workplace violence but also improve reporting rates, thus promoting nurses to take action against offenders.

Effect on Nursing Perspective

Workplace violence affects many nurses, thus having a significant effect on nursing practice and the healthcare sector in general. Nursing is a high-stress occupation; however, workplace violence presents additional challenges to nurses, causing increased stress, anxiety, and even psychological trauma. This can have a significant impact on nurses’ relationships with patients and their families.

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Moreover, the lack of comprehensive prevention strategies decreases perceived feelings of protection, thus impairing nurse’s trust in hospital authorities. All of the above factors could affect the entire nurse workforce in the U.S. by influencing future nurses’ perceptions of the job. On the other hand, government action for the promotion of prevention and reporting problems could help to solve the issue, reducing the incidence of workplace violence and the consequences associated with it.


Overall, workplace violence poses a significant concern for the government authorities, as it has many significant effects on the healthcare sector. Workplace violence against nurses has significant physical and psychological consequences, contributing to existent challenges faced by nursing. Establishing a nationwide prevention policy is crucial, as it would help to prevent further growth of the issue and support nurses in their work.

Reflective Paragraph

The present assignment allowed me to explore the issues faced by nurses on a daily basis. While searching for a policy issue to consider in the report, I encountered a variety of other concerns indicated by the American Nurse Association, such as fatigue, the scope of practice, and more. Researching the different policies and issues allowed me to enhance my understanding of the factors affecting nursing practice, including organizational, patient, and individual characteristics.

For example, I learned that workplace violence is highly associated with organizational settings, and therefore requires a comprehensive national effort for prevention and mediation of consequences. The assignment also contributed to my skills in research and discussion of the information obtained from government sources and prior studies. For example, as there were no recent studies discussing the history of violence against nurses, I used my skills to determine the possible cause of the development of the issue based on the information from scholarly articles. Overall, I believe that this project was useful in enhancing my understanding of the nursing practice and the issues that affect it.


Abdellah, R. F., & Salama, K. M. (2017). Prevalence and risk factors of workplace violence against health care workers in emergency department in Ismailia, Egypt. Pan African Medical Journal, 26(1), 1-8.

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American Nurses Association (ANA). (2014). Workplace violence. Web.

Hartley, D., Ridenour, M., Craine, J., & Morrill, A. (2015). Workplace violence prevention for nurses on-line course: Program development. Work, 51(1), 79-89.

Occupation Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). (2016). Guidelines for preventing workplace violence for healthcare and social service workers. Web.

Wei, C. Y., Chiou, S. T., Chien, L. Y., & Huang, N. (2016). Workplace violence against nurses – Prevalence and association with hospital organizational characteristics and health-promotion efforts: Cross-sectional study. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 56(1), 63-70.

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NursingBird. (2021, March 28). Workplace Violence Against Nurses. Retrieved from


NursingBird. (2021, March 28). Workplace Violence Against Nurses.

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"Workplace Violence Against Nurses." NursingBird, 28 Mar. 2021,


NursingBird. (2021) 'Workplace Violence Against Nurses'. 28 March.


NursingBird. 2021. "Workplace Violence Against Nurses." March 28, 2021.

1. NursingBird. "Workplace Violence Against Nurses." March 28, 2021.


NursingBird. "Workplace Violence Against Nurses." March 28, 2021.