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Nurse Bullying's Corrosive Effect on Colleagues Confirmed

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, July 23, 2012

"Such perspective-taking leads one to experience cognitive or emotional empathy, which includes imagining how another feels or actually sharing in another's feelings," the study said. "These empathetic responses can contribute to the understanding that a significant moral violation has occurred and the recognition that the victim does not deserve his or her mistreatment. As a result of this moral uneasiness, bullying at large within a work unit will increase employee intentions to quit their work group."

The study surveyed 357 nurses at 41 units at a "large health authority in a western Canadian city." The nurses' average age was 43 years, and their average tenure was 16 years. The average unit size was 31 nurses, and nine nurses responded for each unit.

As mentioned earlier, the study most interestingly suggests that the urge to look for work elsewhere might actually be as strong or stronger for the nurses who witness the bullying than for the victims "because the discrepancy between one's relatively positive treatment by others, compared with others' experience of bullying, evokes stronger deontic concerns. Witnessing others being bullied already evokes a sense of moral indignation, but the added discrepancy between one's own good treatment and others' poor treatment, makes it seem even more unfair."

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