Prevalence and Determinants of Bullying Among Health Care Workers in Portugal

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Abstract

Bullying is defined as systematic exposure to humiliation as well as hostile and violent behaviors against one or more individuals. These behaviors are a serious, growing problem, which affects a significant proportion of health care professionals. To support the hospital’s risk management policy, a cross-sectional study was undertaken to determine the prevalence of bullying in this institution and identify the determinants of bullying. Bullying was measured using the Negative Acts Questionnaire–Revised, Portuguese version (NAQ-R), a self-administered tool. The questionnaire was made available in digital format on the hospital’s internal network (Intranet) and in hard copy; questionnaires were returned via nonidentified internal mail addressed to the occupational health unit or deposited in suggestion boxes located throughout the hospital. Multiple questionnaire delivery methods guaranteed data anonymity and confidentiality. The prevalence of bullying in this hospital was 8% (95% confidence interval [CI] = [6.2, 10.2]). Reported bullying was predominantly vertical and more frequently occurring among nurses, clerical staff, and health care assistants (12.5%, 7.6%, 6.4%, respectively; p = .005). After adjusting for gender, age, occupation, type of contract, and work schedule, only type of contract was significantly associated with bullying in the workplace; the risk of bullying was twice as high among government employees compared to workers with indefinite duration employment contracts (p = .038). This study identified a high prevalence of bullying among health professionals; hence a program to prevent and control this phenomenon was implemented in this institution.

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