Minimise workplace aggression with training

Aggression in the workplace is something that many people come across day to day, one of the biggest sectors that is effected heavily by this is Healthcare. Aggression is a growing concern within the healthcare sector (Hahn et al, 2008) and thus it is important that staff have appropriate training and are equipped to deal with situations should they arise.

A recent study in Nurse Education Today (2015) surveyed nine different courses in different countries and correlated the results to show the effect that aggression training has on both nurses and student nurses in a hospital setting.


The effects of Training on aggresion

Aggression can be both verbal and physical, it can also be directed at both the public and staff members. Being exposed to it can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, heightened stress levels and it can also lead to intention to leave the profession (Deery et al.,2011; Gates et al.,2011). There can be many causes for aggression such as; characteristics of the patient/visitor or member of staff (e.g. Age or gender, race, class and many more (Hahn et all 2010; Pitch et al.,2010).

As workplace aggression is becoming more and more common many systems have implemented training as part of an overall strategy. The programs must address staff needs and local risk profiles for maximum benefit (Wiskow, 2003; Zarola and Leather, 2006).  Usually, the training addressed a range of skills, knowledge and attitudes and may also include breakaway techniques and physical restraint techniques. (Beech and Leather, 2006; Wiskow, 2003).

The study showed that after training, participants had a positive attitude towards their roles. They also found that staff members rated themselves higher on self-respect, prevention or prediction of aggression and responsibility for becoming aggressive.

The training provided had affected participants in a way that they could feel more confident should they receive or witness aggression within the workplace and they believed that they could handle it more.

However, it was stated that months after their training, their confidence in themselves and being able to deal with the aggression did falter (Beech and Leather, 2003). In addition to this Nau et al, (2009) also found that staff member’s confidence in dealing with physical patient aggression decreased four to eight weeks after training, but their confidence remained marginally higher than those who had not participated in training.

This shows that training is vital and ensures that staff are feeling more secure within their roles when dealing with workplace aggression.

The training also maintaines their confidence levels and their motivation, but Beech and Leather (2003) also found that this improved further with a three month follow up session. This notion is supported by Fernandes et al (2002) who observed a slight increase in aggression six months after the training in comparison to those who had a three month follow up.

The study suggests that there was a positive connection to individual attitude and confidence, incidence of aggression and individual competence to those who had taken part in some form of training. Changes in attitude and confidence are frequently examined to determine the effect of aggression management training (McKenna, 2008; Zarola and Leather, 2006).

Seven out of the nine studies showed that training had positively influenced staff which also indicates that training interventions truly have a positive effect on attitude and confidence regarding management of aggression. It was also found that staff attitude towards underlying causes for patient aggression has been found to determine the way they manage aggressive behavior (Duxbury,2002).

Individual attitudes

However, although confidence is beneficial in most circumstances it is important to be wary and assess the situation. Experienced nurses may be particularly overconfident in challenging and complex situations (Yang et al., 2012). Nurses and members of staff need to be aware of their limitations in managing an aggressive situation.

The study supports our notion that training is vital in boosting moral and managing the aggression levels and situations at the workplace.  Not only is it important to give staff the knowledge and skills to use in their everyday work schedules but to give them booster sessions every occasionally, to ensure that their confidence stays high and ensures they feel supported for all types of situation which may arise.


IKON Training offer Conflict Resolution Training for individuals and organisations who may face conflict, violence and aggression. This may be particularly relevant to lone workers, many of whom carry out home visits and client meetings alone.


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