Nurses frequently experience horizontal violence in their interactions with nursing colleagues within the workplace. By definition, horizontal violence includes such disrespectful behaviours as intimidation, coercion, bullying, criticism, exclusion or belittling. Educational programs addressing horizontal violence have been developed, but few have been evaluated with respect to knowledge acquisition and transfer. The purpose of this paper is to describe an experimental effectiveness study, using a pre/post design with a control group (total N=164). The research evaluated an innovative educational program in which nurses, using avatars, role-played strategies to address horizontal violence within a virtual nursing unit developed on the Second Life platform. The results of participating in this program were compared with more traditional educational methodologies, such as a workbook and a self-directed e-learning module. While all strategies were perceived by participants as beneficial, the findings from this study suggest that learning through the self-directed e-learning module followed with practice in a virtual world is an effective way of acquiring knowledge, skills and abilities to better address horizontal violence.
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