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Looking beyond bullying to assess the impact of negative behaviours on healthcare staff

Pope R & Burnes B (2009) Looking beyond bullying to assess the impact of negative behaviours on healthcare staff. Nursing Times, 105 (39), pp. 20-24.

Background: Evidence suggests that bullying behaviours are common in the NHS. The various health organisations in the area studied had experienced problems with negative behaviours between staff and it was decided that research was needed. Aim: To assess and analyse negative behaviours experienced and/or witnessed by primary healthcare staff. Method: A mainly quantitative questionnaire was sent to random samples of staff in two primary care trusts, and a small "contact group" who had sought help due to negative behaviours. Results: In PCT A 63% and in PCT B 53% of respondents considered they had experienced and/or witnessed some level of negative behaviour in the previous 12 months. Most of the behaviour was described as incivility (67% in the random sample overall). Some of the incivility was also perceived as bullying, but some was not. However, whatever the perception, similar levels of negative effect were experienced. Discussion: Focusing on bullying alone and on frequency of behaviour misses part of the picture; what counts is the negative experience. Conclusion: Organisations need to take a broader view and prevent the full range of damaging negative behaviour between staff.

Bullying; Aggression; Incivility; Negative behaviours

Nursing Times: Volume 105, Issue 39

Author(s)Pope, Rachael; Burnes, Bernard
Publication date05/10/2009
PublisherEMAP Publishing
Publisher URL…/5006955.article
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