University Awarded $1.3 Million to Study Violence in Emergency Departments

The University of Cincinnati College of Nursing has been awarded a $1.3 million grant from NIOSH to research ways to curb violence against direct care providers in emergency departments.

"We are very excited about this award which will make a significant contribution to an issue that needs to be brought to the forefront of the health care community and the public in general," said Andrea Lindell, PhD, nursing dean.

The study focuses on physical violence and verbal threats by patients and visitors against direct care providers -- including physicians, nurses and aides -- in adult emergency departments.

The researchers also will investigate effective intervention methods. According to principal investigator Donna Gates, EdD, 60 percent of workplace assaults in 2006 occurred in health care settings, and most of those assaults were committed by patients.

"You are not going to be able to get workplace violence to zero, but it should certainly never be tolerated and accepted," says Gates, a UC professor of nursing whose prior study, "Violence: Recognition, Management and Prevention," was published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine in 2006.

Gates said while much research has been conducted to establish that violence against health care providers in emergency departments does exist and is on the rise, there are no known studies on how interventions might reduce the alarming trend.

Gates and co-investigator Gordon Gillespie, Ph.D., will work with six hospital emergency departments nationwide, identifying baseline violent behaviors such as physical assault or verbal threats of harm. They will then implement guidelines and procedures to address violent behaviors when they arise.

Once the interventions are in place, the researchers will measure for violent behaviors again to assess the effectiveness of the interventions.

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