APNA Issue Statement: Addressing Workplace Violence in Today’s Environment
The American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA), as the unifying voice for psychiatric-mental health nursing, supports the work of the psychiatric-mental health nurse administrators, educators, practitioners, and researchers who are leveraging their knowledge and expertise to foster safer environments for their health care colleagues. With high (and increasing) rates of violence towards nurses, especially in psychiatric settings, the American Psychiatric Nurses Association calls for action to address the prevalence of workplace violence. According to APNA’s 2022 report on the psychiatric-mental health nursing workforce, more than one-third of psychiatric-mental health registered nurses report that they do not feel safe on the job.
To effectively keep psychiatric-mental health nurses safe in the workplace so that they can continue to provide essential person-centered care to persons with mental health needs, APNA supports the following recommendations to address this growing crisis (Beeber, Delaney, Hauenstein, Iennaco, Schimmels, Sharp, & Shatell, 2023):
- Comprehensive federal action must be taken to require regulators to address workplace violence in health care.
- Quality indicators should be included in national health care accreditation requirements to promote accountability for hospital and psychiatric facilities’ efforts to protect staff from violence.
- Institutional data systems should monitor health care worker exposure to all aggressive events in order to help inform and promote best practices in prevention and post-incident care.
- Health care organizational culture must emphasize safety and empower nurses to report incidents of workplace violence.
- Nursing education must ensure students are adequately prepared to recognize, document, and intervene when they encounter workplace violence.
As stated in the APNA Violence Prevention Position Paper (2022), “PMH nurses are positioned to be at the forefront of violence prevention efforts by assessing risk factors, providing counseling and education, and acting as role models while actively working to identify and acknowledge cultural norms related to violence.” APNA believes that these 5 recommendations represent a multi-faceted approach that can create significant momentum towards comprehensively addressing the complex and growing issue of workplace violence in health care settings.
Approved by the APNA Board of Directors October 2023.
American Psychiatric Nurses Association (2022). APNA 2022 psychiatric-mental health nursing workforce report. Retrieved from https://www.apna.org/workforce
American Psychiatric Nurses Association (2022). APNA position: Violence prevention. Retrieved from https://www.apna.org/news/violence-prevention/
Beeber, L., Delaney, K. R., Hauenstein, E., Iennaco, J., Schimmels, J., Sharp, D., & Shattell, M. (2023). Five Urgent Steps to Address Violence Against Nurses In The Workplace. Health Affairs Forefront. Retrieved from https://www.healthaffairs.org/content/forefront/five-urgent-steps-address-violence-against-nurses-workplace
Devi, S. (2020). COVID-19 exacerbates violence against health workers. The Lancet, 396(10252), 658.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (April 2020). Fact sheet: Workplace violence in healthcare, 2018. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/iif/factsheets/workplace-violence-healthcare-2018.htm