Workplace violence as experienced by nursing personnel in a private hospital in the Durban Metropolitan area.
Aim: The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the experiences of hospital workplace violence on nursing personnel currently employed in a specific context (an operating theatre) in a private hospital in the Durban Metropolitan Area (DMA). Methodology: The broad paradigm of this research study is located in the qualitative research field. The researcher specifically used an interpretative phenomenological approach (IPA) following the guidelines of Smith, Jarman and Osborne (1999). IPA was used because the researcher was interested in identifying, describing and understanding the subjective experience of individual nurses in respect of their cognitive interpretations and subjective experiences of nursing workplace violence; and because the researcher intended to make sense of the participants' world through a process of interpretative activity. A focus group and two thematically semi-structured interviews were conducted with each subsequent participant by the researcher. A total of eight participants took part in the study, five were interviewed separately and eleven interviews were done. The IPA as suggested by Smith et al. (1999) was used to identify the connections and themes in respect of shared meanings and references and /or in respect of hierarchical relationships in each transcript. Themes that were found to be common were grouped together i.e. clustered by the researcher. The researcher then derived a master list of superordinate themes and sub-themes from the clusters of themes. Findings: The participants' lived experiences of workplace violence in the operating theatre indicated that workplace violence had impacted and was impacting on their everyday work experience. A range of workplace violence experiences as precipitated and perpetuated by doctors, fellow nurses and hospital management was noted. These included verbal abuse, bullying, intimidation, process violence, physical assault and sexual harassment. Differences between the types of workplace violence perpetrated by doctors, nurses and hospital management were found. The participants articulated a range of subjective meanings and explanations for their colleagues' behaviours (intrapersonal, interpersonal and institutional) - all of which were found to have impacted on their psychological wellbeing. A variety of defense mechanisms and coping strategies were identified and discussed. Conclusion: Following McKoy and Smith (2001), the researcher identified a number of factors that made the nursing workplace and/or the healthcare environment more susceptible to the occurrence of workplace violence, e.g. low staffing, a reduction in trained staff, and the profit-motives of private hospitals in the healthcare industry (managed healthcare). These were found to have impacted on each of the participants in this study in respect of their experiences of workplace violence. In sum, the study has provided a clear, department specific picture about the experiences of theatre nurses in respect of workplace violence. A number of interventions to facilitate and retain the services of theatre nurses in the operating theatre have been suggested.