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The exposure to verbal abuse of student nurses gaining placement experience

By Terry Ferns and Elizabeth Meerabeau


Clinical placement experience has a key role to play in the socialisation and preparation of future members of the nursing profession. Aggression experienced by healthcare workers is currently receiving considerable attention and student nurses have been identified as a group vulnerable to experiencing workplace abuse (Little 1999). The primary aim of the study is to gain a greater understanding of the nature, severity, frequency and sources of verbal abuse experienced by student nurses in health care settings in the south east of England, using as a definition, “the use of inappropriate words… causing distress” (Department of Health 2003). A convenience sample of 156 third year student nurses of all four branches of one preregistration nursing programme in the south east of England was studied with questionnaires distributed retrospectively; 11 4 student nurses returned the questionnaires equating to a response rate of 73%. Results 46% of respondents reported experiencing verbal abuse, 39% had witnessed other students experiencing verbal abuse and 61% reported that they were aware of other students experiencing verbal abuse. Students reported experiencing threats to kill, racial abuse, sexually orientated verbal abuse and bullying while gaining placement experience. Student nurses are a high risk group for experiencing verbal abuse whilst gaining placement experience.In the literature, mental health and learningdisability settings are viewed as high risk areasfor experiencing aggression (Beech and Leather 2003); this study suggests that student nurses experience verbal abuse in a variety of settings and verbal abuse may be more prevalent on general medical and surgical wards than previously expected

Topics: RT
Publisher: RCN Events
Year: 2007
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