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Fear for personal safety : implications for nursing education

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The Federal Government has accepted that violence is a problem in rural communities across Australia. The 2nd National Rural health Conference recommended that: "rural communities be resourced to develop their own appropriate strategies for health programs such as STD/HIV control, violence and substance abuse". Anecdotal evidence exists to suggest that the incidence of violence directed towards remote and rural health professionals is increasing. Furthermore, some remote area nurses have reported increasing evidence of violent interaction as a significant motivation for their departure from remote area nursing practice. Limited research has been conducted which specifically addresses the risk and experience of violence to health professionals who practice in remote communities. The purpose of this study is to validate the anecdotal evidence that violence is a prevalent stressor to health care workers within isolated communities, and to assess their repertoire of coping skills in effectively managing violent situations for the client, community and themselves. The study utilises 'across method triangulation' combining quantitative, in the form of a document review of incident reports and a questionnaire survey of remote area nurses, and qualitative methods in the form of group interviews of selected participants. This paper will discuss preliminary findings from the questionnaire and the document review phases of the study. Issues such as the severity and frequency of violent incidents, how remote area nurses dealt with violent situations, and their perceptions of their coping skills and need for educational input will be canvassed. The focus of the paper will be on how nursing education at both undergraduate, post graduate and in service levels can better help to prepare nurses confronting violent or potentially violent situations. Health professionals need to know how to respond effectively to the ever present threat to personal safety that can occur in all health care settings.


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Australian National University


Australian Nurse Teachers' Society NSW]

Place of Publication


Peer Reviewed


Open Access


External Author Affiliations

Faculty of Health Science;

Era Eligible


Name of Conference

National Nursing Education Conference