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Workplace Violence (WPV) is an all-encompassing term used to describe abusive behaviours directed at another with the intent to cause harm. Although the definition varies according to situations and practice settings, there is agreement that WPV has a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of nurses and the delivery of quality nursing care (Choiniere, MacDonnell, & Shamonda, 2010; Higgins & MacIntosh, 2010; Registered Nurses Association of Ontario [RNAO], 2008; Hsinag-Chu & Lee, 2011; Vessey, DeMarco, Gaffney, & Budin, 2009). The growing epidemic of violence in the workplace is of great concern for employees, employers and government agencies and is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Council of Nurses (ICN) as a major health priority (Hinchberger, 2009). WPV occurs between nurses, between nurses and physicians and between nurses and patients and their families. In order to implement effective strategies aimed at diminishing WPV an investigation of the multi-layered risk factors must first be explored. The RNAO (2008) suggests taking “a broad approach, examining societal, workplace, and individual factors and recognizing the dynamic relationship between them” (p.2). This literature review aims at identifying and examining the risk factors for WPV; the psychological and physical effects experienced by nurses due to WPV; the strategies nurses employ to decrease violence in the workplace; and the personal and professional costs associated with WPV. Understanding the risk factors and associated consequences of WPV on the healthcare sector could potentially lead to effective interventions aimed at decreasing WPV and increasing productivity within the health sector.


This is a literature review based on workplace violence within the healthcare sector. It was submitted to my professor who encouraged myself and Shirley McCreey to submit it for potential publication.

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