Background Over 64% of nurses are exposed to violent assaults by patients worldwide. This creates costs for organisations and effect on nurses’ health. To prevent assaults, the causes should be known. It has been suggested, that patient characteristics explain only a proportion of assaults, while nurses’ wellbeing related factors might contribute to assaults. However, little is known about the specific wellbeing related factors exposing nurses to assaults. The objective of the abstract is to describe these factors exposing nurses to violent assaults by patients in healthcare.
Methods Review of the literature with search terms violence, assaults, aggression, nurse and patient was conducted. Databases used were Cinahl, Pubmed, PsychInfo and Cochrane (2004–2015). Also manual searches were used. Studies were excluded if: they were conducted in other setting than healthcare, perpetrators were not patients or something else than quantitative research design was used. Searches resulted in 2368 citations, from which 14 studies met the inclusion criteria.
Results Nurses’ anxiety, depression, fatigue, psychological distress, burn-out, stress and decreased psychological quality of life seem to expose them to assaults. Also nurses’ experiences of increased job demands, poor job control, job strain, time pressure, physical strain and excessive amount of work seem to be their exposing factor to violent assaults by patients. Further, nurses’ feelings of fear and guilt, as well as lowered job satisfaction might expose them to assaults.
Conclusions Several wellbeing-related factors seem to expose nurses’ to violent assaults realised by patients. These are related to both psychological health and working conditions. Nurses’ psychological health and working conditions should be evaluated, monitored and supported as to reduce assaults towards them by patients. Longitudinal research is also needed to verify the results due to mainly cross-sectional nature of the studies.