Media Depictions of “Unacceptable” Workplace Violence Toward Nurses [2018]

Violence and aggression toward nurses are global concerns. Despite repeated research on causal factors and widespread zero tolerance campaigns, rates of violence and aggression have not declined. Violence and aggression toward nurses can negatively affect their health and ultimately patient care. Media reporting of violence and aggression toward nurses might shape people’s perceptions of the profession, perhaps impeding nurse recruitment and retention efforts in the face of global nursing shortages. The purpose of this study was to determine how print media in Scotland depicted reports of violence and aggression toward nurses. We used qualitative thematic analysis of newspaper articles and online news reporting of incidents of violence and aggression toward nurses between June 1, 2006 and May 31, 2016. Searches of Nexis and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) News Online databases returned 92 relevant newspaper articles. Standards for reporting qualitative research informed presentation of results. Key themes included blame (of perpetrator or senior management), helplessness (of nurses specifically or victimization), culture (social or organizational), and prevention and reduction measures. We concluded that media coverage of violence and aggression was overwhelmingly negative and reductionist. Normalization of violence and aggression was an accepted and acceptable part of the nursing role. We conclude with recommendations for policy and call for nurse leaders to challenge this culture of acceptability, especially to support recruitment and retention of nursing staff.

Louise P. Hoyle, PhD, MSc, BNurs (Hons), RN, Emma Smith, MSc, BA (Hons), Catherine Mahoney, PhD, BSc (Hons), RN, Richard G. Kyle, PhD, MA (Hons)

Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice, October 18, 2018