A systematic review and meta-analysis of factors that relate to aggression perpetrated against nurses by patients/relatives or staff

Karen Leigh Edward, John Stephenson, Karen Ousey, Steve Lui, Philip Warelow, Jo Ann Giandinoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Citations (Scopus)


Aims and objectives: The aim of this meta-analysis was to identify the factors that related to aggression (verbal abuse or physical abuse/assault) perpetrated against the nurse or other health professionals by patients/relatives or staff. In the light of the paucity of systematic reviews on this common issue in nursing, the objective was to present a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis of these papers. Background: Aggression towards nurses is common around the world and can be the impetus for nurses leaving the profession or developing anxiety when working in particular settings. Design: Systematic review with meta-analysis. Methods: Meta-analyses were conducted to assess the effect of the factors of gender and context (dichotomised as mental health/psychiatric or nonmental health/psychiatric). The databases of Medline (1966-2015), CINAHL (1982-2015) and PsychInfo (1920-2015). Results: A total of 1571 papers were screened by two reviewers. At the final decision 14 were selected for analysis. A higher proportion of female nurses than male nurses were reported to be the victims of verbal abuse, with the difference in proportions being statistically significant. A statistically significant higher proportion of male nurses than female nurses were reported to be the victims of physical abuse. There was a significantly higher proportion of mental health nurses reported experiencing physical abuse as compared to nonmental health nurses. Conclusions: The analysis reveal female nurses have greater odds of verbal abuse than male nurses and male nurses have greater odds of physical abuse than female nurses. Overall mental health nurses had three times higher odds of physical assault than other nurses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-299
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number3-4
Early online date28 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


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