The purpose of this dissertation is to explore how health care employees process and cope with workplace violence in an effort to improve employee and organizational performance. The participants gave accounts of verbal, physical, and psychological acts of violence perpetrated by patients, family members, and colleagues. The goal of this research study is to understand these experiences and provide insight not currently available in human resource development (HRD) literature.

This is a phenomenological case study based on two theoretical foundations: the theory of cognitive adaptation and social exchange theory. Research and interview questions were developed from these theories to uncover how health care workers process and cope with the trauma of workplace violence. While there is much research on WPV, few studies examine how health care workers make sense of and cope with such traumatic experiences. The researcher conducted interviews with each participant, allowing them to express their experiences, feelings, reactions, and how the incidents impacted them personally and professionally. Interviews were transcribed and coded to reveal categories in the data. A summary of the findings, including implications for theory and practice, is provided. In conclusion, limitations of the study are discussed, and future research opportunities are provided.

Date of publication

Fall 9-2022

Document Type

Dissertation (Local Only Access)



Persistent identifier


Committee members

Dr. Judy Sun, Dr. Paul Roberts, Dr. Dennis Barber


PhD in Human Resource Development