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Exploring emergency nurses’ experience of violence in their workplace Byres, David William


This paper describes emergency nurses’ experience of violence in their workplace and how they perceived their workplace as contributing to their experience and their ability to care for their patients. A review of the literature pertaining to nurses and workplace violence which highlighted work on nurses’ experience with violence, the extent of violence in health care, determinants of violence, workplace design, and the impact of violence on nurses. This qualitative descriptive study using a naturalistic, retrospective design employing qualitative content analysis was conducted in two large urban emergency departments in the lower mainland of British Columbia. Two male and four female emergency nurses who were registered nurses or registered psychiatric nurses with a range of 3 to 20 years experience were individually interviewed who described the frequent and potentially lethal verbal and physical violence they experienced on a daily basis. They identified a culture of violence within a fractured environment that reduced their safety. The study found that the provision of physical barriers sometimes had a paradoxical affect of increasing aggressive incidents. The culture of violence contributed to nurses’ inability to provide care and comfort to emergency patients, which increased the likelihood of a violent event occurring. Lack of response to the culture of violence by management is demonstrated. This study has implications not only for nurses’ safety, but for the recruitment and retention of nursing staff and the design of emergency departments to reduce violence against nursing staff.

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