Quest to end nurse bullying
A James Cook University researcher is embarking on a four-year mission to end bullying amongst nurses.
JCU’s Peter Hartin said it is a well-established fact that the profession suffers from a culture of bullying.
“The idea that bullying is a problem in nursing probably shocks anyone not in health care, but unfortunately feels all too familiar to anyone who is,” he said.
A 2012 study found that 52% of nursing staff had experienced types of bullying behaviour. In Australia, studies in 2007 and 2014 found more than 50% of nursing students experience bullying during their clinical placements.
Mr Hartin said statistics that support the prevalence of bullying in nursing are astounding and troubling.
“Research suggests workplace bullying is so culturally integrated into the environment that nursing students are socialised to these behaviours. Nursing students are typically eager and willing to learn new ways of practice and thinking, and bullying becomes just another learned activity,” he said.
Mr Hartin said bullying can take various forms, including verbal, physical, social or psychological. The impact can be profound with many nurses ultimately leaving the profession.
He said evidence suggests nurses are bullied regardless of their gender, ethnicity or level of seniority, and that incidents of bullying are likely to be underreported.
Mr Hartin said while bullying in the profession had been documented for over 30 years, few studies had approached nurses directly and asked them what to do about it.
“I want to find out why bullying continues to flourish in the nursing profession in Australia and what can we learn from nurses themselves about ways to stop it.”
“Research from this perspective will assist nurse leaders, educators and policymakers to better understand bullying in the Australian health care workforce and thus inform strategies to address the problem.”
The PhD project is scheduled for completion in 2020.