Verbal Abuse From Nurse Colleagues and Work Environment of Early Career Registered Nurses

Intimidating and disruptive aggressive behaviors in the nursing workplace such as bullying, harassment, and verbal abuse contribute to medical errors, poor patient outcomes, and nurse turnover.

In order to better understand who experiences verbal abuse, investigators analyzed national survey data from early career nurses. They used a shortened version of the Verbal Abuse Scale to determine the frequency that a nurse experienced verbal abuse in the last three months. Verbal abused included situations of yelling, swearing, insulting, obscene comments, speaking condescendingly, making humiliating comments disguised as a joke, and ignoring.

Nearly half the respondents experienced some verbal abuse from nurse colleagues at least once; 5 percent more than five times, over the previous three months, most frequently being spoken to in a condescending manner or ignored.

Nurses experiencing verbal abuse were most often White females, married, without children younger than 6 years old, worked in a hospital but not a magnet hospital, and provided direct care on 12-hour day shifts. Those with moderate to high verbal abuse were planning on leaving their current position in the next year but not the nursing profession. Verbal abuse was more frequent in unfavorable work environments and those with inadequate staffing levels, though the relationship was not necessarily causal.

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Nearly half of early career #nurses have experienced verbal abuse from colleagues. Learn more: