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Nurse Educ Pract. 2007 May;7(3):156-63. Epub 2006 Aug 7.

You have no credibility: nursing students' experiences of horizontal violence.

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  • 1Department of Nursing, University of Wollongong, Northfields Avenue, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia.


Horizontal violence is a significant issue confronting the nursing profession both in Australia and internationally. The term horizontal violence is used to describe bullying and aggression involving inter-group conflict. Some evidence suggests that nursing students commonly experience this during clinical placement(s). Despite the current shortage of nurses and the fact that clinical placement experiences may influence whether students remain in the nursing profession, there has been little research undertaken on this topic. This study used a questionnaire to investigate 152 second and third year nursing student's experiences of horizontal violence (either directly experienced or witnessed). Analysis identified five major themes: humiliation and lack of respect; powerlessness and becoming invisible; hierarchical nature of horizontal violence; coping strategies; and future employment choices. More than half of the sample indicated that they had experienced or witnessed horizontal violence; importantly, most of these (51% of the total sample) also indicated that it would impact on their future career and/or their employment choices. Strategies are discussed that could be implemented to reduce the effect of horizontal violence, including giving a higher priority to debriefing within a supportive university environment, and teaching assertiveness and conflict resolution skills within the Bachelor of Nursing Degree.

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