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Soenen C, Van Overmeire R, Six S, Bilsen J, De Backer L, Glazemakers I. J. Psychiatr. Ment. Health Nurs. 2023; ePub(ePub): ePub.


(Copyright © 2023, John Wiley and Sons)






INTRODUCTION: Aggression by patients against healthcare workers is a global recurring phenomenon in mental healthcare. Discrepancies in defining aggression can lead to differences in judgement, which in turn causes difficulties in managing aggression. The multidisciplinary nature of mental healthcare makes a standardized definition an even more pressing matter. No studies, however, were found exploring the way different disciplines approach the definition of aggression. Although traditional methods of managing aggression rely on coercive methods, current research favors the use of non-coercive measures.

AIM: The aim of this study is to explore the different ways mental healthcare nurses and psychologists define and manage aggression in a residential unit.

METHOD: A qualitative research design was used, consisting of interviews and focus groups. Transcripts were analyzed using a reflexive thematic approach.

RESULTS: Three major themes were found: 1) approaches towards defining aggression, 2) experiencing aggression and 3) managing aggression: the need for alternatives.

DISCUSSION: In this study aggression is defined by how aggression has been experienced, both mental health nurses and psychologists agree that there are no alternatives in managing aggression when non-coercive techniques do not work. Aggression is considered an integral part of the job indicating an 'aggression-tolerating'- workplace. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Three implications for practice were identified: 1) It is vital for residential units to agree on a broad-based definition of aggression 2) Further primary research exploring the opportunities of non-coercive techniques and a multidisciplinary approach is crucial 3) The relationship between a workplace culture normalizing aggression and the mental wellbeing of healthcare workers also needs further study.

Language: en


mental healthcare; nurses; Defining aggression; psychologists


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