Principal investigator Jan Illing of Durham University in England says the findings are based on the responses of almost 3,000 NHS staff to a validated questionnaire designed to tease out exposure to negative and bullying behaviors. The 12-item General Health Questionnaire was also included to assess the contribution of bullying to psychological distress.
The respondents worked at seven different secondary care, primary care and mental health NHS trusts in the northeast of England. Forty-three staff were additionally interviewed in greater depth, Illing said.
All types of staff were represented, but the largest proportion of respondents were drawn from support staff, trainee doctors and dentists, healthcare assistants and nurses caring for adults.
Almost half say they witnessed other staff being bullied at work in the preceding six months, with 1-in-20 saying it happened weekly or daily.
The most commonly reported behaviors were unmanageable workloads, withholding key information, public humiliation, being deliberately ignored, and being shouted at or the target of an angry outburst, Illing said.
The study, published in the journal BMJ Open, found more than half say they were bullied by a manager/supervisor, while 1-in-3 say they were bullied by peers. Almost 1-in-5 say blamed workplace culture for the ongoing bullying.