New nurses verbally abused by colleagues have lower commitment to employer, less likely to stay in current job

June 19, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—Verbal abuse against nurses in the workplace, including abuse by other nurses, is both common and well-documented. The negative effects of that abuse and the adverse impact on patient care are also well-documented. Now, a study of newly licensed registered nurses (NLRNs) finds that nurses who are verbally abused by nursing colleagues report lower job satisfaction, unfavorable perceptions of their work environment, and greater intent to leave their current job. The study, conducted by the RN Work Project, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was published online in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship.

The researchers surveyed 1,407 NLRNs about how often they were verbally abused by nurse colleagues: never (low level); one to five times in the last three months (moderate); or more than five times in the last three months (high). They found that nearly half (49 percent) of respondents experienced some verbal abuse, although only 5 percent had experienced abuse more than five times in the last three months. Being spoken to in a condescending manner and being ignored were the most frequently reported types of abuse. RNs working in Magnet hospitals and those working in intensive care units were the least likely to report high levels of verbal abuse.

"The verbal abuse we found to be most common is best characterized as passive-aggressive," said Budin. "Rather than yelling, swearing, insulting or humiliating behavior, most early career RNs reported that the abuse they experienced involved condescension or lack of acknowledgement. This kind of subtle abuse is less likely to be reported and more likely to be overlooked as a problem, which makes it all the more insidious and it is all the more important that hospital administrators work to confront and prevent it."

RNs working day shifts experienced higher levels of verbal abuse than those working evening and weekend shifts. RNs working eight-hour shifts were less likely to experience abuse than RNs working 12-hour shifts. Staffing shortfalls were also correlated with higher levels of abuse.

The study revealed that intent to leave a job was highly correlated with the levels of abuse new RNs experienced. RNs who reported no verbal abuse were least likely to plan to leave in the next three years. Those who experienced moderate to high levels of abuse were most likely to say they intended to leave in the next 12 months, but also indicated that they planned to leave their current positions, not the field of nursing.

"Verbal abuse of early career RNs remains an ongoing problem and this study shows that this abuse not only has an impact on their attitudes toward work, but also influences their decisions about whether to stay in their current positions," said Brewer. "If hospital and health systems want to retain these new nurses, they need to make changes that will end this kind of abuse."

The researchers note that there is a need for evidence-based strategies to decrease and eliminate verbal abuse and to help new nurses cope with abuse, including structured interventions. They suggest that therapeutic communication, assertiveness training and conflict management strategies may help new nurses cope with perceived . The researchers recommend mandatory hospital-wide programs for all employees about the impact of and other disruptive behaviors, and zero-tolerance policies.

The RN Work Project is a 10-year study of NLRNs that began in 2006. It is the only multi-state, longitudinal study of new nurses' turnover rates, intentions and attitudes—including intent, satisfaction, organizational commitment, and preferences about work. The study draws on data from in 34 states, covering 51 metropolitan areas and nine rural areas.

Explore further: Childhood abuse linked with food addiction in adult women

More information: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10 … 1/jnu.12033/abstract

Related Stories

Childhood abuse linked with food addiction in adult women

May 29, 2013
Women who experienced severe physical or sexual abuse during childhood are much more likely to have a food addiction as adults than women who did not experience such abuse, according to a new study published in the journal ...

Little progress in participation of early-career registered nurses in hospital quality improvement activities

January 28, 2013
Nurses are the largest group of health care providers in the U.S., and health care leaders and experts agree that engaging registered nurses (RNs) in quality improvement (QI) efforts is essential to improving our health care ...

Women abused as children more likely to have children with autism

March 20, 2013
Women who experienced physical, emotional, or sexual abuse as children are more likely to have a child with autism than women who were not abused, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). Those ...

Sentinel injuries are common in infants who are abused

March 13, 2013
(HealthDay)—Sentinel injuries are common among infants who suffer abuse and are rare in those who are evaluated for abuse and found to not be abused, according to a study published online March 11 in Pediatrics.

Too little known on how primary care docs can prevent child abuse

June 10, 2013
(HealthDay)—A lack of research makes it impossible to recommend how primary care doctors can prevent abuse and neglect of children who show no signs or symptoms of maltreatment, according to a new U.S. Preventive Services ...

Study updates estimates, trends for childhood exposure to violence, crime, abuse

May 13, 2013
A study by David Finkelhor, Ph.D., of the University of New Hampshire, and colleagues updates estimates and trends for childhood exposure to a range of violence, crime and abuse victimizations.

Recommended for you

To reduce postoperative pain, consider sleep—and caffeine

August 18, 2017
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health, and chronic insufficient sleep increases the risk for several chronic health problems.

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts, researchers find

August 17, 2017
A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by ...

Study shows cigarette makers shifted stance on nicotine patches, gum

August 17, 2017
The use of nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers or nasal sprays—together called "nicotine replacement therapy," or NRT—came into play in 1984 as prescription medicine, which when combined with counseling, helped ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.