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Bullying in nursing

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Title: Bullying in nursing  
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Subject: Bullying in medicine, Nursing ethics, Workplace bullying, Bullying, Patient abuse
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Bullying in nursing

The bullying occurs quite frequently.[1][2] It is thought that relational aggression (psychological aspects of bullying such as gossipping and intimidation) are relevant. Relational aggression has been studied amongst girls but not so much amongst adult women.[3][4]

Various bullying permutations are possible, such as:

  • doctor or management bullying a nurse
  • nurse bullying another nurse
  • nurse bullying a patient
  • patient bullying a nurse
  • nurse bullying other healthcare providers

Bullying acts

Lewis identifies the following bullying acts in UK nursing:[5]

Such acts are frequently insidious, continuing over periods of time that may be years. Bullies are often serial bullies. The bullies are invariably aware of the damage they are doing. They undertake such actions basically to gain control and power.


Laschinger, Leiter, Day, and Gilin found that among 612 staff nurses, 67.5% had experienced incivility from their supervisors and 77.6% had experienced incivility from their coworkers.[6]

Bullying of nurses by managers

In 2003 the Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association in the UK carried out a survey showing that half of health visitors, school nurses and community nurses working in the National Health Service (NHS) have been bullied by their managers. One in three of the 563 people questioned said the bullying was so bad they had to take time off work. Constant criticism and humiliation were the most common complaints. Others said they were shouted at or marginalised.[7]

Nurse bullying inventory

In order to further investigate and understand the impact of workplace bullying on the nursing work environment, an inventory was developed to address specific workplace bullying constructs within the nursing context.[1]

Associated terms

Horizontal Violence [8] is often the same term used when referring to bullying in Nursing. This term describes the appalling behavior shown by colleagues in the nursing field. Such demeaning behavior makes the work place stressful and unpleasant. Another term associated with bullying in nursing is lateral violence. This term is used to describe the effect that bullying takes on someone lower down on the ladder of workforce, making it hard to climb that ladder.

Remedial action

Some health organisations are seeking to educate staff and health care team members on how to improve social interactions, proper business etiquette, and foster positive people skills in the work environment. Nurses are entitled to monetary compensation for bullying.[9][10][11][12]

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^ Richards A, Edwards SL A Nurse's Survival Guide to the Ward (2008)
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ NHS nurses 'bullied by managers' BBC News 11 October 2003
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Nurse Work Injury Compensation Eoin Campbell Injury Compensation Zone
  12. ^

Further reading


  • Button SM Bullying of a nursing student: a mixed interpretive study (2007)
  • Dellasega C When Nurses Hurt Nurses: Recognizing and Overcoming The Cycles of Bullying (2011)
  • Nurses and the experience of bullying at work: a report for the Claire Thomson, Working Women's Centre (Adelaide, S. Aust.), Australian Nursing Federation. S.A. Branch - 1998
  • Thompson R "Do No Harm" Applies To Nurses Too! (2012)
  • Webb C, Randle J Workplace Bullying in the NHS (2006)

Academic papers


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