Graduate School of Nursing Dissertations

Publication Date


Document Type

Dissertation, Doctoral


Graduate School of Nursing

Dissertation Committee Chair

Carol Bova


Emergency Nursing, Emergency Service, Hospital, Nurses, Violence, Workplace

Subject Categories

Criminology | Emergency Medicine | Nursing | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance


Emergency department nurses are at high risk for violence in the workplace (Keely, 2002; Fernandez et al., 1998; Nachreiner et al., 2005; Mayer et al., 1999). It is estimated that between 52% and 82% of emergency nurses will experience physical violence and 100% of emergency department nurses will experience non-physical violence in their careers. Despite this fact, there are limited studies examining workplace violence among this vulnerable group (Fernandez et al., 1998; Levin et al., 1998). Therefore, the purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to examine the experiences of emergency department nurses with workplace violence. Levin et al.’s (2003) Ecological Occupational Model (EOHM) was used to guide this study.

Four focus groups were conducted with 27 nurses who represented different types of emergency departments (rural community facility to large urban Level 1 trauma center). Results of the study suggested that the majority of participants (96%) experienced some form of work-related violence and 75% had attended at least one violence education class. The major themes of frustration and powerlessness emerged from the data. Sub themes included professional conflict while caring for violent patients, personal detachment as an emotional survival mechanisms, and feelings of victimization. Additional factors contributing to workplace violence included: personal attributes of the nurse, the workplace, and the community where the emergency department was located. These study results have potential to guide intervention development aimed at reducing workplace violence in the emergency department setting.



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
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