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).

The RN Work Project

  1. 1. Newly Licensed RNs' Characteristics, Work Attitudes, and Intentions to Work
  2. 2. Addressing the Complexities of Survey Research
  3. 3. A Comparison of Second-Degree Baccalaureate and Traditional-Baccalaureate New Graduate RNs
  4. 4. Understanding New Registered Nurses' Intent to Stay at Their Jobs
  5. 5. The Nursing Career Process from Application Through the First 2 Years of Employment
  6. 6. What Newly Licensed Registered Nurses Have to Say about Their First Experiences
  7. 7. Moving on, Up, or Out
  8. 8. Generational Differences Among Newly Licensed Registered Nurses
  9. 9. New Nurses Views of Quality Improvement Education
  10. 10. Newly Licensed RNs Describe What They Like Best about Being a Nurse
  11. 11. Early Career RNs' Perceptions of Quality Care in the Hospital Setting
  12. 12. Commuting to Work
  13. 13. State Mandatory Overtime Regulations and Newly Licensed Nurses' Mandatory and Voluntary Overtime and Total Work Hours
  14. 14. Work Environment Factors Other Than Staffing Associated with Nurses' Ratings of Patient Care Quality
  15. 15. The Relative Geographic Immobility of New Registered Nurses Calls for New Strategies to Augment that Workforce
  16. 16. Predictors of Actual Turnover in a National Sample of Newly Licensed Registered Nurses Employed in Hospitals
  17. 17. Charting the Course for Nurses' Achievement of Higher Education Levels
  18. 18. Verbal Abuse From Nurse Colleagues and Work Environment of Early Career Registered Nurses
  19. 19. Early-Career Registered Nurses' Participation in Hospital Quality Improvement Activities
  20. 20. Positive Work Environments of Early-Career Registered Nurses and the Correlation with Physician Verbal Abuse

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.


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.

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