Development, implementation and evaluation of a process to recognise and reduce aggression and violence in an Australian emergency department

Emerg Med Australas. 2021 Aug;33(4):665-671. doi: 10.1111/1742-6723.13702. Epub 2020 Dec 17.


Objective: In 2018, we developed and implemented a novel approach to recognition and response to occupational violence and aggression (OVA). It included routine use of the Brøset Violence Checklist for all ED patients integrated with a score-based notification and response framework. The present study evaluated the impact of the new process on staff knowledge, perceptions and confidence regarding OVA in ED and the rate of security events related to OVA.

Methods: The present study was conducted in a metropolitan hospital ED in Australia. Evaluation was by online before and after survey of nursing staff, point prevalence study of risk classification and comparison of OVA-related events involving security in the year before implementation and the year after the programme was embedded.

Results: One percent of patients were assessed as high violence risk with a further 4% at moderate risk. The introduction of the Brøset Violence Checklist increased documentation of violence risk assessment. It also improved staff perception of organisational support and awareness of behaviours associated with the risk of violence. There was a statistically significant reduction in unplanned OVA-related security responses (relative risk 0.75, 95% confidence interval 0.62-0.89). There was also a statistically significant shift to proactive management through early detection and intervention (relative risk 2.22, 95% confidence interval 1.85-2.66).

Conclusion: A process including routine OVA risk assessment and a notification and response framework reduced unplanned security events due to OVA and increased staff confidence in recognition and management of OVA. This approach may be suitable for use more broadly in ED.

Keywords: behaviours of concern; occupational violence; risk assessment.

MeSH terms

  • Aggression*
  • Australia
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Violence* / prevention & control