An exploration of the nurses perception on causes of and management of in-patient aggression in a psychiatric institution in Botswana.
Kealeboga, Kebope Mongie.
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Inpatient aggression in mental health settings is a significant concern because it compromises the quality of care provided by health care workers. Nurses are one of the groups most affected by inpatient aggression because they are usually the client's first contact on admission. A number of studies have found that nurses are the most frequently assaulted professional group both inside and outside of the hospital setting, are more frequently assaulted than doctors and most are likely to experience some form of aggression in their career. The causes of inpatient aggression are frequently conceptualised as multidimensional and involving factors internal to the client e.g. age, factors relating to the environment such as inflexible ward routines and factors relating to the quality of the interaction between nursing staff and clients. Research studies suggest that nurses generally respond reactively and rely heavily on physical control strategies rather than on interpersonal strategies in managing inpatient aggression. Contemporary literature suggests that the perceptions nurses hold about aggression and its causes influences their management of the event and that this process is mediated by a number of client, environment and nurse-related variables including age, education, gender, nursing experience, perceptions of aggression and its causes. Although the causes and management of inpatient aggression in nursing is well documented in the United Kingdom and some other West European countries, this is not the case for Africa and in the case of this study, for Botswana. No studies have attempted to find the nurses' perception, perception on the cause, and management of inpatient aggression in Africa and more so in Botswana. Aim: The purpose of the study was to explore how nurses' demographic characteristics, their perceptions of aggression and its causes, influence the management of inpatient aggression by nurses in the main psychiatric institution in Botswana. Method: A descriptive, exploratory non-experimental design was used. Perception of inpatient aggression was captured by a Perception of Aggression Scale (POAS) and the perception on the cause and management of inpatient aggression was collected with Management of Aggression and Violence Attitude Scale (MAVAS).The sample comprised of 71 nurses, 48 of whom were females and 23 males. The mean age of the nurse respondents was 36 years. Of the 71 respondents 50 were registered nurses only while 20 were psychiatric registered nurses. More than two thirds of the respondents had a diploma in nursing, one had a masters degree and the remainder, a degree in nursing. The average nursing and psychiatric nursing experience of the respondents were 12.1 and 6.87 years respectively. ANNOVA test and t-tests were done to find the associations between the nurses' demographic variables, their perception, perception on the cause and management of inpatient aggression. Findings: The respondents In this study perceived inpatient aggression as both negative and positive. There was an overall agreement with the perception of aggression as always negative and as an action of physical violence against a nurse (81.73%). Nurses saw the cause of inpatient aggression as emanating from the internal, external and situational/interactional factors. The use of traditional methods of aggression dominated as shown by a high mean score of 80.5 as compared to interpersonal management with a mean score of 60.5. A statistical difference was found between gender, perception of aggression and perception of aggression and the traditional management of aggression while age, nursing and psychiatric nursing experience were statistically associated with the use of interpersonal management of aggression. Conclusion: The study provided insight into the nurses' perceptions, perceptions on the cause and management of inpatient aggression in a mental institution in Botswana. Nurses in this study hold predominantly negative perceptions of aggression and generally favour traditional management strategies. However, older, more experienced nurses tended to favour interpersonal techniques. Recommendations for nursing practice, education and research to address this issue centre around further and targeted education and training in mental health and specifically, in the comprehensive management of aggression which includes communication skills, use of de-escalation, use of medication and cautious physical restraint.