Attitudes of psychiatric nurses towards aggression: A polish study

J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2021 Oct;28(5):856-866. doi: 10.1111/jpm.12746. Epub 2021 Mar 7.



(scientific rationale): Mental health care in Poland lags behind that of many other countries, and coercive measures are used on a regular basis. Scant research has been conducted in Poland regarding the treatment of psychiatric patients. The perspectives of Polish psychiatric nurses towards aggression remain unknown. WHAT DOES THIS PAPER ADD TO THE EXISTING KNOWLEDGE?: The translated and validated Attitude Towards Aggression Scale (ATAS) in Polish will serve as an instrument that gauges Polish nurses' attitudes towards aggression. The Polish nurses have unenlightened and negative attitude towards aggression. WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE?: There is now an instrument in Polish by which we can gauge the attitudes of mental health nurses, which must precede any educational efforts. Polish nurses showed more restrictive and antiquated attitudes about patient violence than nurses in some other parts of the world. With a shift to more positive attitudes, the use of coercion could be reduced, resulting in improved patient care.

Introduction: In Poland, the mode and site of patient treatment have changed little in the past 75 years, despite therapeutic advances worldwide. There is limited information regarding attitudes of nurses towards aggression in psychiatric settings in Poland, nor has there been an instrument in Polish to measure it.

Aim: To translate and validate the Attitudes Towards Aggression Scale (ATAS) for use in Poland, and to assess the attitudes of three groups of nursing personnel towards aggression.

Method: We surveyed 980 psychiatric and general nurses as well as nursing students. We translated the ATAS into Polish, and validated it using exploratory factor analysis.

Results: The Polish version of the ATAS showed good psychometric properties. We found that Polish nurses perceived patient aggression extremely negatively.

Discussion: Polish nurses perceive aggression as destructive, negative and not to be tolerated, leading to use of restraints. Among the three groups, psychiatric nurses showed the most negative attitude towards aggression. Thus, education is needed for preservice and inservice nurses alike to address this issue.

What this study adds to existing evidence: We now have a validated instrument to assess nurses' attitudes about aggression. We also know that Polish nurses have exceedingly negative attitudes towards aggression.

Implications for practice: The Polish version of ATAS was found valid and reliable. Therefore, we can now measure the attitudes of Polish nurses towards aggression, which was not possible previously. The baseline data provide a starting point from which to determine effects of educational efforts.

Keywords: attitude towards aggression scale; mental health; mental illness; nursing; poland; somatic nurses; student nurses; violence.

MeSH terms

  • Aggression
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Nurses*
  • Poland
  • Psychiatric Nursing*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires