Positive Work Environments of Early-Career Registered Nurses and the Correlation with Physician Verbal Abuse

Hospital medical professionals check a patient during admittance procedure.

The Issue:

Past research shows nurses experience verbal abuse worldwide, and that physicians are one of the main sources of verbal abuse. The aim of this study, a part of RWJF’s RN Work Project, is to access physician verbal abuse among newly licensed registered nurses (NLRNs).

Key Findings

  • Survey respondents were overwhelmingly White (84.9%) and female (91%).

  • NLRNs experiencing moderate abuse (one or more times in the last three months) were significantly younger than those experiencing no abuse.

  • NLRNs experiencing moderate abuse reported working in hospital settings; working day shifts; and working on units that were short-staffed.

  • NLRNs experiencing moderate or high (more than five times in the last three months) verbal abuse from physicians noted a less favorable perceived work environment, lower intent to stay at their current job, and lower organizational commitment.

Conclusion:

This study finds that high levels of physician verbal abuse are closely associated with more negative work environments; causality is important in fully understanding and assessing the issue. The researchers note methods aimed at preventing verbal abuse must be part of a holistic approach to improving the work environment.

About the Study:

This study used the fourth wave of a national panel survey that began in 2006 of NLRNs licensed between August 1, 2004 and July 31, 2005. In the fourth wave, researchers surveyed 1,328 NLRNs, who responded to a shortened six-item version of the Verbal Abuse Scale, reporting the frequency of verbal abuse by physicians in the previous three months.