Teaching cognitive rehearsal as a shield for lateral violence: an intervention for newly licensed nurses

J Contin Educ Nurs. 2004 Nov-Dec;35(6):257-63. doi: 10.3928/0022-0124-20041101-07.


Background: Recent literature defines lateral violence as nurses covertly or overtly directing their dissatisfaction inward toward each other, toward themselves, and toward those less powerful than themselves. Newly licensed nurses are an identified group that is vulnerable to lateral violence during their socialization to nursing practice. The use of cognitive rehearsal, an applied cognitive-behavioral technique, was used as an intervention and the theoretical underpinning for this study.

Method: Twenty-six newly licensed nurses hired by a large acute care tertiary hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, participated in an exploratory descriptive study. They were taught about lateral violence in nursing practice and the use of cognitive rehearsal techniques as a shield from the negative effects of lateral violence on learning and socialization. Small laminated cueing cards with written visual cues for the appropriate responses to the most common forms of lateral violence were provided. One year later, videotaped focus groups designed to collect qualitative data about the applied intervention were conducted.

Results: Twenty-six newly licensed nurses in three different focus groups were videotaped responding to six open-ended questions designed to elicit information on their experience with lateral violence, use of cognitive rehearsal as an intervention, and the overall socialization process.

Conclusions: Knowledge of lateral violence in nursing appeared to allow newly licensed nurses to depersonalize it, thus allowing them to ask questions and continue to learn. The learned cognitive responses helped them confront the lateral violence offender. Confrontation was described as difficult but resulted in the resolution of the lateral violence behavior. Overall, the retention rate in this study population was positively affected.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / education
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Cues
  • Education, Nursing, Continuing / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training / organization & administration*
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Kinesics
  • Male
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Nursing Education Research
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital* / education
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital* / psychology
  • Professional Competence / standards
  • Program Evaluation
  • Qualitative Research
  • Role Playing*
  • Social Behavior
  • Videotape Recording
  • Violence / prevention & control*
  • Violence / psychology