Workplace violence against nurses--prevalence and association with hospital organizational characteristics and health-promotion efforts: Cross-sectional study

Int J Nurs Stud. 2016 Apr;56:63-70. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2015.12.012. Epub 2016 Jan 6.


Purpose/objectives: To determine the prevalence of workplace violence and explore the role of hospital organizational characteristics and health promotion efforts in reducing hospital violence among nurses in Taiwan.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: One hundred hospitals across Taiwan.

Sample: The final sample in our study comprised responses from 26,979 nurses.

Methods: The data were obtained from a nationwide hospital survey, Physical and Mental Health and Safety Needs in Full-Time Health Care Staff, which was developed and conducted by the Bureau of Health Promotion, Taiwan, in 2011.

Main research variables: The main dependent variable was whether nurses had experienced violence within the past year. Physical violence, threatened or intimidated personal safety, verbal violence or sexual harassment were all included.

Findings: Of the 26,979 nurses, 13,392 nurses (49.6%) had experienced at least one episode of any type of violence in the past year; 5150 nurses (19.1%) had been exposed to physical violence, and 12,491 nurses (46.3%) had been exposed to non-physical violence. The prevalence of having experienced any violence varied widely and ranged from the highest (55.5%) in an emergency room or intensive care unit to the lowest (28.3%) among those aged 55-65 years. After adjusting for other characteristics, younger nurses were significantly more likely to be exposed to any violent threat. Nurses working in public hospitals had a significantly higher risk of workplace violence than those working in private hospitals. Significant variations were also observed among work units. Although nurses working in a certified health promoting hospital (HPH) did not have a lower risk of workplace violence, those working in an outstanding HPH had a significantly lower risk of workplace violence. A similar pattern was observed for non-physical violence.

Conclusions: Workplace violence is a major challenge to workplace safety for nurses in hospitals. This large scale nurse survey identified individual, work and hospital characteristics associated with workplace violence among hospital nurses. Preventive efforts in reducing hospital violence shall be targeted these high risk groups and settings.

Implications for nursing: This nationwide nurse survey assisted us in more clearly understanding the scope of the hospital violence facing nurses and identifying critical risk factors. The findings not only identified the most common locations of violence in hospitals but also suggested that extensive investments and efforts by hospitals in health promotion are crucial.

Keywords: Health promoting hospital (HPH); Hospital nurse; Physical violence; Workplace violence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Promotion*
  • Hospital Administration*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital*
  • Prevalence
  • Violence*
  • Young Adult