Many nurses physically and emotionally
-- Nurses face high rates of emotional and physical abuse on the job, but most
don't tell anyone about it, a new study indicates.
The amount of abuse nurses suffer is
"surprisingly high and we're very disturbed about the
under-reporting," said nursing professor Carole Estabrooks at the
University of Alberta.
The abuse could affect the quality of care
patients receive and make it difficult for hospitals to recruit and keep
nurses, she added.
Patients were the most common source of
abuse, but relatives, doctors and other nurses were also culprits.
The study of 6,500 hospital-based registered
nurses in 1998 found:
- 38 per cent said they had been emotionally
abused within their last five shifts.
- About 18 per cent said they had been
threatened with assault.
- 17 per cent said they had been physically
- Almost eight per cent said they suffered
verbal sexual abuse.
- Half of one per cent said they had been
than half of those who said they had been abused reported it to anyone.
the study's co-investigator, said the reasons for that are complicated, but
probably have something to do with whether a nurse feels that taking abuse is
part of the job.
Dick, vice-president of the United Nurses of Alberta, said she sees a parallel
with domestic abuse.
dealing with something that goes back hundreds of years," she said. "Women
have been socialized not to complain about these things. Nurses have been
socialized even further."
the 1990s made nurses more vulnerable to abuse because waiting times were
longer in emergency rooms and nurses had less time to look after patients'
needs, she said.
said she couldn't draw those conclusions based on the study.
nurse for 27 years, said people do things to nurses they would never do to
been punched and kicked and bitten and sworn at."
study is part of a larger, international research project aimed at determining
how the organization of nursing care affects patients. It is to be completed in