The oppressive nature of work in healthcare: predictors of aggression against nurses and administrative staff

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Abstract

Aims

To assess the antecedents of workplace aggression (bullying and violence) among nurses and administration staff.

Background

As a result of power structures within the healthcare industry, nurses and administration staff may be more vulnerable to workplace aggression. Environmental and individual characteristics have been linked to the occurrence of such aggression among other groups. However, most research focuses on bullying, rarely extending these ideas to violence or nurses and administration staff specifically.

Methods

Surveys were distributed to nurses and administration staff employed by an Australian healthcare organisation. Aggression types (bullying and violence), as well as environmental (demands, control and support) and individual (negative affectivity, NA) characteristics were measured.

Results

External emotional abuse was most frequently reported for nurses (29%) and bullying for administration staff (27%). Demands, support and NA were associated with different aggression types in nurses, whereas for administration staff, control, support and NA were linked.

Conclusion(s)

Low support and high NA are particularly important to nurses and administration staff and their experiences of aggression.

Implications for Nursing Management

Appropriate training for managers in providing support and acknowledging individual factors associated with aggression is essential. Further, managers should monitor aggression risk from patients and their associations towards staff in busy times.

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