Violence Against Nurses Working in US Emergency Departments : JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration

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Violence Against Nurses Working in US Emergency Departments

Gacki-Smith, Jessica MPH; Juarez, Altair M. MPH; Boyett, Lara MSN, RN, ACNP-BC, CEN; Homeyer, Cathy MSN, RN, CEN; Robinson, Linda BSN, RN, SANE, DVNE, CEN, CFN; MacLean, Susan L. PhD, RN

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JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration 39(7/8):p 340-349, July 2009. | DOI: 10.1097/NNA.0b013e3181ae97db



The objective of this study was to investigate emergency nurses' experiences and perceptions of violence from patients and visitors in US emergency departments (EDs).


The ED is a particularly vulnerable setting for workplace violence, and because of a lack of standardized measurement and reporting mechanisms for violence in healthcare settings, data are scarce.


Registered nurse members (n = 3,465) of the Emergency Nurses Association participated in this cross-sectional study by completing a 69-item survey.


Approximately 25% of respondents reported experiencing physical violence more than 20 times in the past 3 years, and almost 20% reported experiencing verbal abuse more than 200 times during the same period. Respondents who experienced frequent physical violence and/or frequent verbal abuse indicated fear of retaliation and lack of support from hospital administration and ED management as barriers to reporting workplace violence.


Violence against ED nurses is highly prevalent. Precipitating factors to violent incidents identified by respondents is consistent with the research literature; however, there is considerable potential to mitigate these factors. Commitment from hospital administrators, ED managers, and hospital security is necessary to facilitate improvement and ensure a safer workplace for ED nurses.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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