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British Bullies: Study Finds 1 In 5 Health Care Staffers Report Abuse

(Wikimedia Commons)

(Wikimedia Commons)

Anti-bullying programs have swept the nation’s schools. Is it time for them to sweep our workplaces as well?

A “healthy workplace” bill is live in the Massachusetts legislature this session — as it has been in years past, but with many more sponsors this time around — and a dozen other states are considering such bills, though none has passed.

The Massachusetts bill would give workers more legal recourse when abused by co-workers or managers. It has already drawn opposition from the state’s biggest employer group, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, which argues that the bill could stifle workplace coaching and lead to frivolous claims.

When I wrote about workplace bullies as health threats back in 2010, workplace bullying expert David Yamada of Suffolk University noted that bullying tended to be particularly rife in health care, because it’s naturally high-stress work and some physicians’ personalities can be problematic. Now, a new report just out in the medical journal BMJ Open, based on surveys of nearly 3,000 staffers, adds some new numbers to the picture. From the press release:

One in five UK NHS staff report bullying by colleagues, with almost half saying they have witnessed bullying, in the past six months, indicates research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Managers are the most common source of bullying, with workload pressures and organisational culture contributory factors, the study reveals.

The most commonly reported behaviours were unmanageable workloads; withholding key information; public humiliation; being deliberately ignored; and being shouted at or the target of an angry outburst.

Half the respondents (51%) who had been bullied said they had been bullied by a manager/supervisor, and around one in three (31%) accused their peers. Almost one in five staff (18%) blamed workplace culture. Continue reading