Assessment of aggression from patients on mental health nurses

mental health nursing news


Rahul Jalil, Lecturer in Forensic Psychology

Research aims

The research aimed to examine to what degree targeted, personal and verbal aggression by patients affected mental health nurses, particularly in their decision-making regarding physical restraint. The research, conducted in the world-leading International Journal of Nursing Studies, assessed the role of anger in patient aggression, as well as in the nurse-patient therapeutic relationship.

Method of research

The research, led by Rahul Jalil, conducted rigorous assessments with mental health nurses working in three UK secure mental health units.


The research discovered that nurses who are subject to humiliating personal remarks experience higher levels of distressing emotions, including anger, than those who had witnessed physical aggression or self-harm. With this study, there are now real implications for education and training staff in the prevention of violence and aggression.

Geoff Dickens, Professor in Mental Health Nursing at Abertay University, acted as Rahul's study supervisor, and said: "More attention should be paid to how nurses regulate their own responses to this behaviour. While it is common to hear that nurses should just 'deal with it', it is unreasonable to believe that they are immune and can do this without help or support."

The study also revealed that while individual nurses exposed to this behaviour were more approving of coercive interventions, this did not translate into an increased use of restraint or seclusion.