The outcome of a rapid training program on nurses’ attitudes regarding the prevention of aggression in emergency departments: A multi-site evaluation

Gerdtz, Marie, Daniels, Catherine, Dearie, Vikki, Prematunga, Roshani, Bamert, Merrin and Duxbury, Joy orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1772-6874 (2013) The outcome of a rapid training program on nurses’ attitudes regarding the prevention of aggression in emergency departments: A multi-site evaluation. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 50 (11). pp. 1434-1445. ISSN 0020-7489

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Patient aggression is a common source of occupational violence in emergency departments. Staff attitudes regarding the causes for aggression influence the way they manage it. The Management of Clinical Aggression – Rapid Emergency Department Intervention is a 45min educational program that aims to promote the use of de-escalation techniques and effective communication skills to prevent patient aggression.

We sought to evaluate the impact of the program on staff attitudes regarding the prevention and early management of patient aggression.

A mixed methods approach was used including a pre-test post-test survey of training participants and individual interviews with key stakeholders.

Setting and sample:
The setting was public sector hospital emergency departments located in metropolitan and regional Victoria, Australia. A convenience sample of eighteen emergency departments was recruited via the Victorian Department of Health.

Survey participants were nurses and midwives who were employed at the study sites. Interview participants were a purposive sample of nurse unit managers and trainers.

The Management of Aggression and Violence Attitude Scale was administered to training participants immediately before and 6–8 weeks after training. Semi-structured telephone interviews with trainers and managers occurred 8–10 weeks after the intervention.

Four hundred and seventy one participants completed the pre-test and post-test. Statistically significant shifts were observed in 5/23 items (Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test: p≤0.01). Despite training, participants were undecided if it was possible to prevent patient aggression, and continued to be unsure about the use of physical restraint. Twenty-eight (82.3%) of managers’ and trainers’ eligible to be interviewed provided their perceptions of the impact of the program. Overall, these perceptions were consistent with the significant shifts observed in the survey items.

There was limited evidence to demonstrate that the program significantly modified staff attitudes towards the prevention of patient aggression using the Management of Aggression and Violence Attitude Scale. Additional survey items that specifically measure staff attitudes about the use of restraint in emergency settings are needed to better understand decision making about restraining practices. Further work is indicated to quantify the impact of training in practice.

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