The public’s mixed emotional responses to violence directed at nurses: A mixed methods study

Sigalit Warshawski*, Anat Amit Aharon, Michal Itzhaki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims and objectives: To understand whether exposure to an incident of violence directed at nurses, evoke among the public a sense of identification with the victim or with the perpetrator. Background: Worldwide, evidence regarding workplace violence (WPV) in healthcare systems, explored the characteristics of the perpetrator, the healthcare settings and staff. Nevertheless, no studies examine the emotions of the public towards WPV in the healthcare systems. Design: A convergent mixed method parallel design. Methods: A structured questionnaire was distributed among 925 adults. Two scenarios were presented, with verbal and physical violence towards nurses. The participants rated how intensely they felt positive and negative emotions regarding the nurse and the perpetrator (quantitative stage). Sixty participants were also interviewed concerning their emotions regarding violence committed towards nurses (qualitative stage). Paired samples t-test were used to compare the emotions that were aroused regarding the perpetrator and the nurse. The effect size and Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons were calculated. Constant comparative analysis method was used to analyzed the qualitative data. The STROBE checklist for cross-sectional studies and the COREQ guidelines for qualitative studies were used for reporting. Results: Positive emotions were significantly higher towards the nurse than the perpetrator. Nevertheless, there were both positive and negative emotions towards the perpetrator and the nurse. The qualitative findings yielded two themes: (1) Mixed emotions towards the perpetrator, and (2) Mixed emotions towards the nurse. Conclusions: The public may emotionally identify with both the nurse and the perpetrator while positive and negative emotions are intertwined. Likewise, positive emotions are more intensely felt for the victims in both verbally and physically violent scenarios. Relevance to clinical practice: These complemented findings highlight the need for campaigns promoting positive emotions toward healthcare professionals in an attempt to reduce and eliminate WPV in healthcare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2208-2218
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number15-16
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • emotions
  • mixed method design
  • nurses
  • public
  • workplace violence


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