Nurses' attitudes towards the reporting of violence in the emergency department

Kathryn M. Hogarth, Jill Beattie, Julia Morphet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The incidence of workplace violence against nurses in emergency departments is underreported. Thus, the true nature and frequency of violent incidents remains unknown. It is therefore difficult to address the problem. Aim: To identify the attitudes, barriers and enablers of emergency nurses to the reporting of workplace violence. Method: Using a phenomenological approach, two focus groups were conducted at a tertiary emergency department. The data were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Violent incidents in this emergency department were underreported. Nurses accepted violence as part of their normal working day, and therefore were less likely to report it. Violent incidents were not defined as 'violence' if no physical injury was sustained, therefore it was not reported. Nurses were also motivated to report formally in order to protect themselves from any possible future complaints made by perpetrators. The current formal reporting system was a major barrier to reporting because it was difficult and time consuming to use. Nurses reported violence using methods other than the designated reporting system. Conclusion: While emergency nurses do report violence, they do not use the formal reporting system. When they did use the formal reporting system they were motivated to do so in order to protect themselves. As a consequence of underreporting, the nature and extent of workplace violence remains unknown.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-81
Number of pages7
JournalAustralasian Emergency Nursing Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


  • emergency nursing
  • occupational violence
  • Emergency department
  • nursing
  • qualitative research
  • repoting violence
  • risk management
  • workplace violence

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