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aggression, agitation, care, neuroscience, nursing, patient, safety, violence



  1. Woon, Caroline


ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Violence and aggression is commonly encountered in nursing worldwide and is an increasing concern, although it is largely underreported by staff. Violence and aggression can take many forms, from verbal and physical abuse to sexual assault. This study aims to define agitation, violence, and aggression and to explore the prevalence of violence and aggression among neuroscience patients. This review also examines why violence and aggression occurs for neuroscience patients and to determine the effects on the patients, the environment, and the nursing staff. METHODS: A review of articles was conducted using CINAHL, PubMed, the Cochrane Database, and Google Scholar between 2012 and 2022. DISCUSSION: Agitation can escalate to violence and aggression. The reasons a neuroscience patient may become agitated are multifactorial. An injury to the brain may not cause agitation; however, the effect on the frontal lobe, hypothalamus, and hippocampus may cause a lack of self-control, impulsivity, an inability to control emotions, and an uncontrolled release of hormones, leading to a heightened sympathetic response. The effects of violence and aggression can be detrimental to the patient and include isolation, increased sedation, reduced observations, and even death. The effects on the nurse are profound including a decline in productivity at work, an increased risk of drug errors, and posttraumatic stress disorder or burnout as longer-term consequences. CONCLUSION: Violence and aggression is commonly experienced within neuroscience nursing, and the contributing factors are multifactorial. The effects for the patients and staff can be profound, and this is why prevention of agitation is fundamental to ensure the safety and retention of nursing staff.