Date of Conferral



Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


Health Services


Allison Terry


Communication Skills of Novice Psychiatric Nurses with Aggressive Psychiatric Patients


Rose L. Moss

MS, University of Hartford, 1996

Project Submitted in Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Degree of

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Walden University

March 2015

The transition from novice nurse to a competent psychiatric staff nurse is often associated with major communication challenges, primarily when caring for aggressive patients. Guided by Peplau's theory, this quantitative study assessed the communication skills of novice psychiatric nurses (N = 25) who worked 24 months or less in the state psychiatric hospital with aggressive psychiatric patients. Additionally, certain demographic data such as gender, age range, level of education, and length of time working were analyzed to determine their impact on communication skills. The survey consisted of 20 questions which assessed demographic data, communications skills, and hospital-based orientation. Based on ANOVA, novice nurses did not differ on hospital-based orientation based on gender, age, level of education, or length of time working. Novice nurses' communication skills did not differ by gender, age or level of education; however, novice psychiatric nurses who had worked 19-24 months had stronger communication skills than those working less time with aggressive patients (F = 6.9, p < 0.005). A communication skills class during hospital orientation to prepare novice nurses to communicate effectively with aggressive patient was recommended to nursing leadership and staff. A communication skills class held during hospital orientation could enhance the nurse-patient relationship, cultivate a safer and secure milieu, and improve patient outcomes. The findings have implications for positive social change for staff development to improve the hospital orientation for novice psychiatric nurses to become better equipped as effective communicators with aggressive psychiatric patients.

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