Occupational violence and aggression experienced by nursing and caring professionals

Tracey Shea, Cathy Sheehan, Ross Donohue, Brian Cooper, Helen De Cieri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To examine the extent and source of occupational violence and aggression (OVA) experienced by nursing and caring professionals. This study also examines the relative contributions of demographic characteristics and workplace and individual safety factors in predicting OVA.
Design: A cross-sectional study design with data collected using an online survey of employees in the nursing and caring professions in Victoria,Australia.
Methods: Survey data collected from 4,891 members of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian branch) were analyzed using logistic regression.
Findings: Sixty-seven percent of respondents reported experiencing OVA in the preceding 12 months, with nearly 20% experiencing OVA on a weekly or daily basis. The dominant sources of OVA were patients (79%) or relatives of patients (48%). Logistic regression analysis revealed that respondents working in public hospitals and aged care facilities were more likely to experience OVA,compared to those working in other workplaces. While higher levels of safety compliance reduced the likelihood of experiencing OVA, role overload and workplace safety factors such as prioritization of employee safety and leading indicators of occupational health and safety were stronger predictors.
Conclusions: The likelihood of healthcare workers experiencing OVA varies across demographic and workplace characteristics. While some demographic characteristics and individual safety factors were significant predictors, our results suggest that a greater reduction in OVA could be achieved by improving workplace safety.
Clinical Relevance: The study’s outcomes identify workforce segments that are most vulnerable to OVA. The study also highlights workplace safety factors such as the prioritization of employee safety that might assist in the reduction of OVA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-243
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nursing Scholarship
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


  • employee safety
  • health care
  • nurses
  • occupational violence and aggression

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