Violence experienced by undergraduate nursing students during clinical placements: An online survey at a Scottish University



Hunter EJ, Eades CE & Evans JMM (2022) Violence experienced by undergraduate nursing students during clinical placements: An online survey at a Scottish University. Nurse Education in Practice, 61, Art. No.: 103323.

Aim To assess the prevalence of violence and experiences of violence during clinical placements, among nursing students at a Higher Education Institution (HEI) in Scotland. Design Cross-sectional survey, using an opt-in online questionnaire. Participants All 950 undergraduate nursing students aged 18 + years were eligible. Methods The survey, with 24 open and closed format questions, was advertised over a 6-week period via the students’ virual learning platform. Potential participants were provided with study information before giving (electronic) informed consent. The questionnaire used was adapted from two other surveys and piloted prior to administration. Open-ended questions were fully transcribed and categorised and data analysed using SPSS. Results There were 138 completed questionnaires (approx. 15% response rate); respondents were mainly female (92%). 77% had experienced verbal violence directed at them while on placement, most commonly swearing, shouting and insults. 70% of respondents had experienced physical violence, most commonly hitting, grabbing, kicking and spitting. By the fourth year of study, all 10 students who responded (out of 17 enrolled) had experienced violence. In general, patients (with a mental illness) were perceived to be the most likely perpetrators. The five most commonly reported feelings by respondents during the incident were: anxious (65), understanding (58), vulnerable (54), unsafe (50) and scared (45) and those after the incident were understanding (70), anxious (59), guilty (37), vulnerable (36), incompetent (34). 55 (47.8%) respondents felt supported during this ‘significant’ incident, 23 (20.0%) were unsure and 28 (24.3%) did not feel supported. There was a trend towards younger respondents and those with fewer years of care experience experiencing more violence. Conclusion This study indicates that there is a high prevalence of violence experienced by student nurses that can have significant emotional consequences. There is scope to provide more training and support for them to deal with frequent incidents of violence.

Nurses; Nursing students; Violence; Clinical placements; Education

Nurse Education in Practice: Volume 61

Publication date31/05/2022
Publication date online31/03/2022
Date accepted by journal28/02/2022

People (2)


Dr Claire Eades
Dr Claire Eades

Lecturer, Health Sciences Stirling

Dr Josie Evans
Dr Josie Evans

Reader, Health Sciences Stirling