n African Journal of Psychiatry - Patient aggression in psychiatric services : the experience of a sample of nurses at two psychiatric facilities in Nigeria : original

Volume 14, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1994-8220



Aggression is a common feature in psychiatric in-patient units in Africa. The attitudes of psychiatric nurses and their perceptions of the frequency of in-patient aggression have not been explored in the Nigerian context.

Using a crosssectional study design, two self-report questionnaires (the Attitudes toward Aggression Scale (ATAS) and the Perception of the Prevalence of Aggression Scale (POPAS)) were administered to nursing staff (n=73) at two psychiatric facilities in Benin City, Nigeria.
Overall, nurses viewed aggression as offensive, destructive and intrusive. They were less likely to view it as a means of communication or serving protective functions. Verbal aggression was the commonest type of aggression experienced while sexual intimidation and suicide attempts were least common. Male nurses were more likely to experience physical violence and aggressive 'splitting' behaviours, while nurses with over a decade of professional experience were more likely to experience verbal and humiliating aggressive behaviours. In contrast to previous studies, fewer nurses required days off work due to aggressive behaviour.
Aggression is commonly experienced by nurses in in-patient units in Nigeria. Their views were predominantly negative. Training programmes are required to change staff attitudes as well as research on the cultural factors mediating these attitude dispositions.

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