The role of organisational culture and systems on health professional’s feelings of safety in the remote health setting

Miss Jennifer Wressell1,2, Ms Bodil Rasmussen2, Ms Andrea Driscoll2

1mia online, East Geelong, Australia, 2Deakin University, Burwood, Australia


Workplace violence is a significant issue on the health industry with upto 80% of nurses experiencing verbal or physical assaults in the workplace.  Workplace violence has a flow on effect across an organisation resulting in high levels of professional burnout, difficulty with recruitment and retention and decreased quality of care.  At an individual level long term effects such as increased levels of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress have been identified as common amongst health professionals.

We wanted to explore two primary areas; firstly how remote area nurses felt in the workplace and their level of exposure to risk factors across environmental, client and occupational workplace characteristics.  Secondarily how organisational culture and risk management structure influenced response to workplace violence.  A theoretical proposition of our study was that workplace violence is such a common occurrence in the health workspace that health professionals have become desensitised to both assessing risks and the effects of violence on self.

In August, 2016 we collected data using a quantitative explorative descriptive design approved by Deakin University Human Ethics Committee.  Our study explored the experiences of 99 remote area nurses and health service managers working in remote health clinics across Australia.  Looking at how safe nurses felt within the remote health setting in conjunction with the organisational factors that influence feelings of safety.  This approach allowed us to identify some key occupational and organisational traits that could be developed as mitigating factors to minimise the effect of workplace violence on health professionals.




Jen is a Registered Nurse, Health Service Manager and Researcher who has worked in a variety of settings including remote Indigenous communities across Australia, Antarctica and Saudi Arabia.  Over the last 10 years Jen has become increasingly interested in the relationship between organisational culture, professional leadership, team development and nurses’ professional satisfaction levels and personal health.  As co-Director of ‘mia; mindful, innovative action’ she advocates for the implementation of risk mitigation strategies to reduce the long term effect of workplace violence.