I do not even tell my partner: Nurses’ perceptions of verbal and physical violence against nurses working in a regional hospital

Hila Dafny, Gavin Beccaria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Aims and objectives
To examine nurses’ perceptions of physical and verbal violence perpetrated by patients and visitors and to investigate themes surrounding gender and the incidence of violence.
The prevalence of violence towards nurses is a concern for nurses and hospital administrators. However, nurses who work in acute care and mental healthcare settings are particularly at high risk. This study examines the occurrence, type of violence and gender issues in a regional public hospital of Queensland Australia.
An exploratory, qualitative design.
Focus group interviews with 23 nurses from Emergency Department (ED), Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Psychiatry Department (PD) working in Queensland regional public hospital, Australia. Qualitative data were transcribed and thematically analysed manually and by NVivo. COREQ research reporting checklist followed.

Participants reported frequent incidents of verbal and physical violence on a daily basis. Severe incidence included punching, kicking, biting and scratching, as well as threats of using weapons, such as knives. Patients were more likely to exhibit physical violence, especially towards male nurses, while hospital visitors including patient's family were more likely to exhibit verbal violence. Allocating male nurses in volatile areas and to care for violent patients raises concerns that the male nurses may be seen by their patients as “bodyguards” and not as a professional nurse.
Findings indicate that staff believe that violence is increasing, feel the burden to accept that violence as part of the job and that the bureaucratic processes of the organisation make it difficult to address violence or get support. Organisations need to be vigilant in ensuring assistance is accessible and simplified.
Relevant to clinical practice
This study contributes new knowledge to the discussion concerning of gender issues. Identifying gender issues could assist in developing the necessary interventions to reduce workplace violence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3336-3348
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number17-18
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Nursing
  • Physical violence
  • Verbal violence
  • Regional hospitals
  • Australia
  • Workplace violence
  • Regional Hospital
  • Physical Violence


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