Types of Bullying Behaviors Associated With Selected Characteristics

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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence and types of bullying behaviors associated with gender, age, education level, sexual orientation and ethnicity. Background: With the well-documented nursing shortage, studies have focused on understanding ways to retain nurses. The nursing practice environment seems to be a major influence in nurse recruitment and retention. However, only recently have studies begun to focus on negative workplace effects, finding an association between this negative environment and propensity by nurses to leave their current job and also the nursing profession. Methods: A descriptive study was done to determine the overall prevalence of bullying and to examine if selected demographic variables were associated with certain types of bullying behaviors. The Negative Acts Questionnaire-Revised (NAQ-r) was sent to 767 nurses who were members of the Washington State Emergency Nurses Association. Results: The return rate was 32.5%. Using answers about 22 bullying behaviors and the operational definition that bullying exists when an individual experienced two or more negative acts weekly or more often for six months, the overall bullying rate was 27.3%. When bullying behaviors were simply counted, there were no significant differences by gender, age, education level, sexual orientation, and ethnicity. However, additional analysis was done to determine if specific types of bullying behaviors were experienced based on these variables. Factor analysis was done using principal component analysis extraction with varimax rotation with Kaiser normalization. Five factors were identified which accounted for 55.8% of the variance. These factors were: 1. Hostile Environment Factor (six behaviors), 2. Work Devaluation Factor (seven behaviors), 3. Personal Ridicule Factor (three behaviors), 4. Intimidation Factor (three behaviors), and 5. Slander Factor (two behaviors). Using these factors, no significant differences were found based on gender, age, or education level. However, significant differences were found in the types of behaviors experienced by subjects who identified themselves either as gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender (GLBT) or as non-white ethnicity. The GLBT subjects (n=10) had higher factor scores on the Intimidation Factor (p=.049) and also on the Slander Factor (p=.06). Those who identified their ethnicity as non-white (n=19) had a higher factor score on Personal Ridicule Factor (p=.004). Implications: There is a paucity of studies that look at bullying behaviors beyond calculation of prevalence rates. This study is unique in that it begins to provide information as to the specific type of bullying behaviors experienced by nurses who might be potentially marginalized. While further research is needed, information about specific patterns of bullying will help define potential interventions that might be used to stop these types of behaviors. The need for interventions is even more critical in that the literature reports that many bullied nurses chose to leave their job, as alternative organizational procedures do not stop the bullying. In fact, in this study, nurses who were bullied were more likely to plan leave their job (p<.001) and the nursing profession (p<.001). Thus, in addition to the social justice issues associated with the need to reduce bullying, there are the economic costs associated when a nurse leaves the organization.

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Western Institute of Nursing

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