Bullying Among Nurses: A Health Risk

Bullying is a common problem in nursing. Between  21% and 65% of nurses report that they have experienced or witnessed bullying between coworkers. 

Bullying has negative consequences on its victims, such as distress and emotional pain, anxiety, feelings of isolation, helplessness and dejection. This can lead to psychosomatic symptoms, including depression and posttraumatic stress disorder, physical illness and increased use of sick time.

Bullying also leads to a toxic work environment, eroding morale and job satisfaction, leading to loss of productivity, work absence and nurse attrition. Further, bullying can affect patient safety negatively, since it interferes with teamwork, collaboration and communication.

Suggestions to handle bullying are collaborative efforts between nurses, reporting bullying incidents and intervening if witnessing incidents between coworkers. A strong sense of community and individual responsibility may also help prevent such behavior.

Further, there should be organizational policies and a zero tolerance principle regarding threatening and intimidating behaviors at the workplace.

Source: Stokowski, L.A. A Matter of Respect and Dignity: Bullying in the Nursing Profession: Final Thoughts. Posted to Medscape Nurses 09/30/2010.

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