Understanding bullying in healthcare organisations
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Understanding bullying in healthcare organisations

Build a better workplace culture by understanding, addressing and preventing bullying in healthcare organisations

World Continuing Education Alliance
Updated Dec 19, 2019

This module aims to clarify what constitutes bullying and how this differs from harassment. The module informs readers about the prevalence of bullying, emphasising the high rates of this negative behaviour in healthcare sector organisations. The organisational factors that contribute to these high rates are described and the consequences of bullying, particularly in relation to patient care, are discussed. The module provides a step-by-step guide to what individuals should do if they are being bullied or if they witness bullying behaviour in their workplace and emphasises the proactive measures that organisations can take to effectively tackle and prevent bullying.

Bullying is a pervasive problem in healthcare organisations. Inquiries and reports on patient care and poor practice in the NHS have emphasised the substantial negative effects this behaviour may have on patient care. If bullying is to be addressed, it is crucial we develop clarity about what behaviours constitute bullying and how these behaviours differ from other negative behaviours in the workplace. It is important that we recognise the extent of the problem; statistics on the prevalence of bullying are likely to be an underestimate because of under-reporting of bullying. Effective interventions may only be designed and implemented if there is knowledge about what precipitates bullying and the magnitude of the changes required in organisations to tackle bullying. Individuals should also be aware of the options that are available to them should they be the target of bullying behaviour and what they should do if they witness bullying in their workplace.