Experience of nursing leaders with workplace bullying and how to best cope

Debra Hampton, Kim Tharp-Barrie, Mary Kay Rayens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Aims: The purposes of this study were to assess the exposure of nurse leaders in manager, director or executive-level roles to bullying and to identify strategies nurse leaders have found to be effective in dealing with colleagues or bosses who were bullies. Background: Bullying is deliberate, negatively impacts the victim and is aggressive, intentional and frequent. Minimal information has been published about the bullying experiences of nurses that are in management and executive roles. Methods: This study employed a descriptive, cross-sectional design. Participants included nurse managers, directors and executives from a US national nursing leadership organization that has approximately 9,700 members. Results: Approximately 60% of participants experienced behaviours that can be categorized as bullying behaviours and 26% experienced severe workplace bullying. Confrontation, crucial conversation, leaving the organization and avoidance were the most frequently reported strategies for responding to bullying. Conclusion: Bullying is a significant workplace stressor for leaders at the manager, director and executive levels, and no easy solutions exist for addressing this serious health care workplace problem. Implication for Nursing Management: Bullying is “inappropriate, unacceptable behavior.” Nursing leaders must identify and manage bullying behaviours and work together with applicable stakeholders to find and implement solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-526
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nursing Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • bosses
  • bullying
  • coping
  • nursing leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management


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