Wounding words: Swearing and verbal aggression in an inpatient setting

Teresa Stone, Margaret McMillan, Michael Hazelton, Edward H. Clayton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Purpose: The aim of the research was to investigate swearing and verbal aggression in Australian inpatient settings, including incidence, gender, patient motivation, and nursing interventions. Design and Methods: A mixed methods approach utilizing the Overt Aggression Scale and a survey of 107 nurses' perceptions of their experience of swearing was used. Findings: High levels of swearing and verbal aggression were found, with differing patterns for male and female patients. Nurses subjected to swearing experienced high levels of distress, especially females. All nurses appeared to use a limited range of interventions to deal with patient aggression. Practical Implications: In order to provide optimal care for patients, there is a clear need to improve nurses' ability to predict and prevent aggression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-203
Number of pages10
JournalPerspectives in Psychiatric Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Aggression
  • Inpatient mental health
  • Overt Aggression Scale
  • Swearing
  • Verbal aggression


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