Measuring patient and visitor violence in general hospitals: feasibility of the SOVES-G-R, internal consistency and construct validity of the POAS-S and the POIS

S. Hahn*, M. Müller, I. Needham, T. Dassen, G.J. Kok, R.J.G. Halfens

*Corresponding author for this work

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Aims. To investigate the feasibility of a survey measuring patient and visitor violence after translation and modification, namely the Survey of Violence Experienced by Staff (German version revised) and to validate the shortened Perception of Aggression Scale (POAS-S) and the Perception of Importance of Intervention Skills Scale (POIS) after adaptation for use in a general hospital setting.

Background. The use of different approaches and research instruments for investigating patient and visitor violence negatively influences the comparability of studies. Typically, general hospitals use self-administered surveys. However, support for these instruments' validity is insufficient.

Methods. Between November 2006-January 2007, 291 nurses working in general hospitals in the German-speaking region of Switzerland completed the SOVES-G-R, the POAS-S and the POIS (response rate = 71%).

Results. The participants' responses demonstrated a need for modifications to enhance the feasibility of the SOVES-G-R in two categories, namely experiences with patient and visitor violence in 'the past 12 months' and in 'the past working week'. The POAS-S revealed the same factor solution as in earlier studies, with two factors explaining 38.0% of variance. In the POIS, two factors were distinguished: (1) structured interventions and evaluation and (2) the importance of preventive measures.

Conclusions. The SOVES-G-R, the POAS-S and the POIS are adequate for investigating factors influencing the occurrence of patient and visitor violence in general hospitals. Given the changes in the SOVES-G-R and the moderate size of our sample, further testing with a larger sample is recommended.

Relevance to clinical practice. The instruments help determine which clinical settings have a greater risk of patient and visitor violence and the specific factors that influence this risk. This can facilitate the implementation of situation-specific preventive measures against patient and visitor violence in general hospitals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2519-2530
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number17-18
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011


  • aggression
  • nurses
  • nursing
  • patient and visitor violence
  • questionnaire development
  • self-administered survey
  • workplace violence
  • UK

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