Intended for healthcare professionals


Workplace bullying in NHS community trust: staff questionnaire survey

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 23 January 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:228
  1. Lyn Quine, reader in health psychology (L.Quine{at}
  1. Centre for Research in Health Behaviour, Department of Psychology, University of Kent at Canterbury, Canterbury CT2 7NP
  • Accepted 28 October 1999


Objectives: To determine the prevalence of workplace bullying in an NHS community trust; to examine the association between bullying and occupational health outcomes; and to investigate the relation between support at work and bullying.

Design: Questionnaire survey.

Setting: NHS community trust in the south east of England.

Subjects: Trust employees.

Main outcome measures: Measures included a 20item inventory of bullying behaviours designed for the study, the job induced stress scale, the hospital anxiety and depression scale, the overall job satisfaction scale, the support at work scale, and the propensity to leave scale.

Results: 1100 employees returned questionnaires—a response rate of 70%. 421(38%) employees reported experiencing one or more types of bullying in the previous year. 460(42%) had witnessed the bullying of others. When bullying occurred it was most likely to be by a manager. Two thirds of the victims of bullying had tried to take action when the bullying occurred, but most were dissatisfied with the outcome. Staff who had been bullied had significantly lower levels of job satisfaction (mean 10.5(SD 2.7) v 12.2(2.3), P<0.001) and higher levels of job induced stress (mean 22.5(SD 6.1) v 16.9(5.8), P<0.001), depression (8% (33) v 1% (7), P<0.001), anxiety (30% (125) v 9% (60), P<0.001), and intention to leave the job (8.5(2.9) v 7.0(2.7), P<0.001). Support at work seemed to protect people from some of the damaging effects of bullying.

Conclusions: Bullying is a serious problem. Setting up systems for supporting staff and for dealing with interpersonal conflict may have benefits for both employers and staff.


    View Full Text