Preparing Nurses to Prevent Workplace Violence

Nov 01, 2017

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American Journal of Critical Care examines scientific evidence about effectiveness of aggression management education for nurses

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. – Nov. 1, 2017 – Verbal abuse, intimidation, physical assaults and other forms of workplace violence are serious issues facing healthcare workers, and nurses are especially at risk.

Among the solutions is teaching nurses how to prevent and respond to aggression and situations involving workplace violence, but evidence about the effectiveness of such educational interventions is limited, according to an article in the November 2017 issue of American Journal of Critical Care (AJCC).

Aggression Management Education for Acute Care Nurses: What’s the Evidence?” outlines the main findings of seven original studies about de-escalation education interventions with nurses and nursing students in medical/surgical, emergency and critical care unit settings.

The article is the subject of the journal’s Clinical Evidence Review, a regular feature that uses available scientific evidence to answer questions faced in contemporary clinical practice. It is intended to support, refute or shed light on healthcare practices where little evidence exists.

Author Margo Halm, RN, PhD, NEA-BC, is associate chief nurse executive, nursing research and evidence-based practice, for the VA Portland HealthCare System in Oregon.

“Studies have shown that the ability to relate to an aggressor may serve as a powerful factor to mediate violence, and we need to identify evidence-based strategies to help nurses develop empathetic and compassionate responses to aggression,” she said.

Providing safe and healing environments for the delivery of patient care is a top priority for the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), which publishes AJCC.

The association recently identified hostility in the workplace and behaviors of patients and families as among the most common barriers impeding optimal delivery of nursing care.

“We increasingly hear about threatening and unsafe encounters that nurses have with both patients and visitors in hospitals,” said AACN President Christine Schulman, MS, RN, CNS, CCRN-K. “We all need to work together to build work environments that ensure that patients can heal and nurses have a safe place to work.”

First published in 2005 and updated with new research and real-world examples in 2016, AACN Standards for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments specifically points to relationship issues as having the potential to create serious obstacles for creating work environments where patients and their families can receive safe care with optimal outcomes.

The AACN Healthy Work Environment Team Assessment is available to help organizations around the world align quality and safety improvement efforts with the HWE standards. Healthcare professionals can use the free online tool to survey staff, compare their results with industry standards and develop step-by-step strategies to improve performance, patient safety, staff recruitment and retention, and their workplace environment, as needed.

AACN offers additional resources related to HWEs, including peer-reviewed research and continuing education materials.

To access the article and its full-text PDF, visit the AJCC website at

About the American Journal of Critical Care: The American Journal of Critical Care (AJCC), a bimonthly scientific journal published by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, provides leading-edge clinical research that focuses on evidence-based-practice applications. Established in 1992, the award-winning journal includes clinical and research studies, case reports, editorials and commentaries. AJCC enjoys a circulation of more than 107,000 acute and critical care nurses and can be accessed at

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: Founded in 1969 and based in Aliso Viejo, California, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is the largest specialty nursing organization in the world. AACN represents the interests of more than half a million acute and critical care nurses and includes more than 200 chapters in the United States. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, 101 Columbia, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4109; 949-362-2000;;;