The prevalence of verbal aggression against nurses

Sue McLaughlin, Lyn Gorley, Laurie Moseley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract There have been many anecdotal and press reports of verbal aggression against nurses. The authors undertook a structured review of the published literature on the topic. They found that no consistent definitions or time periods had been used, a consistent estimate of prevalence was impossible to establish, studies had been retrospective, and the commonest form of measurement had been self-report. There had been no culmination of replicable knowledge. The claim of most studies is that verbal aggression is commonplace in nursing. The best available evidence suggests that verbal aggression is often viewed as 'part of the job'. Consequences can range from emotional effects such as anger and humiliation, through to intent to leave the profession and for some it may have a negative psychological impact. Further research is needed to investigate the multi-faceted nature of verbal aggression. This must be guided by clear definitions and incorporate standardized measures of the effects of verbal aggression so that nurses can compare findings and fully understand all of the complexities and consequences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735 - 739
Number of pages4
JournalBritish Journal of Nursing
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2009


  • verbal agression


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