Archive for the ‘Social/Mgmt/Epid Sciences’ Category


2017 WBI U.S. Survey: Strong Support for a New Law Against Abusive Conduct at Work

Friday, July 7th, 2017

2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey
Support for a New Law Against Abusive Conduct At Work


77% of Americans support a new law to address abusive conduct at work

The Workplace Bullying Institute commissioned Zogby Analytics to conduct the 2017 national scientific U.S. survey across two days in late April. The stratified random sample of 1,008 individuals represented all adult Americans. [Zogby methodology and sample details here.] It was WBI’s fourth national survey.

We used the definition of workplace bullying that matches perfectly the definition codified in the Healthy Workplace Bill. Bullying is repeated mistreatment but also “abusive conduct.” We asked American survey respondents to consider only the most serious forms of bullying.

When the 2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying data were collected, legislation written to address abusive conduct in American workplaces – the Healthy Workplace Bill – had been introduced in 30 states and Territories. The bill had not yet been enacted into law in its complete form.

We asked all respondents [N = 1,008] whether they supported or opposed such a law.

Wording of the Support for New Law Question: Do you support or oppose enactment of a new law that would protect all workers from repeated health-harming abusive mistreatment in addition to protections against illegal discrimination and harassment?

It is clear that the American public wants to see worker protections against abusive conduct extended beyond the anti-discrimination statutes – 77% support specific anti-bullying legislation when strongly support and somewhat support proportions are combined.

Self-described political ideology was one of the demographic variables provided by Zogby. There were 242 liberals, 314 moderates and 369 conservatives. Table 12 shows the pattern of support and opposition for the new anti-abuse workplace law. The phenomenon of bullying ignores ideological boundaries (with the possible Trump effect being the exception, see the analysis of the final question). Nevertheless, liberals and moderates showed the strongest support for the bill. It is noteworthy that two-thirds of conservatives support enacting the law against abusive conduct at work.

Gary Namie, PhD
WBI Research Director

Download the pdf version of these Support for New Law findings.

View findings related to other questions asked in the 2017 Survey.

Download the complete report of the 2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey.

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2017 WBI U.S. Survey: What Stops Workplace Bullying?

Friday, July 7th, 2017

2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey
Stopping Workplace Bullying


65% of bullying stops when the target loses the job held when first bullied

The Workplace Bullying Institute commissioned Zogby Analytics to conduct the 2017 national scientific U.S. survey across two days in late April. The stratified random sample of 1,008 individuals represented all adult Americans. [Zogby methodology and sample details here.] It was WBI’s fourth national survey.

We used the definition of workplace bullying that matches perfectly the definition codified in the Healthy Workplace Bill. Bullying is repeated mistreatment but also “abusive conduct.” We asked American survey respondents to consider only the most serious forms of bullying.

At WBI, we have been immersed in the lives of bullied targets for two decades. Ideally, employers would recognize the risks workplace bullying/abusive conduct pose and act rationally to stop it. However, we know from targets, this is not the case.

Bullying in its simplest manifestation is dyadic. There is a target and a perpetrator. This question explores how much each player contributes to stopping the bullying and through which personal consequences. [N = 350 with no experience respondents and “not sure” respondents deleted.]

Wording of the Stopping the Bullying Question: What stopped the abusive mistreatment?

This Survey question provided the response option: “It has not stopped” that was chosen by 25% of respondents. Thus, the sample was reduced to N = 263 when those respondents were eliminated. The subsequent percentages in the above Table are based on the new sample that excluded the 25%. The options were chosen only by those for whom the bullying had stopped, either for targets or witnesses.

The sad reality is that even the general public seems to know that it is the target, the victim of the abuse, who is asked to make additional sacrifices to stop the bullying. In 54% of cases, bullying stops only when the target loses her or his job. Remember that individuals do not invite this severe misery into their work lives. Therefore, once a person is targeted for bullying – a choice made by the perpetrator(s) – that person has a 5 out of 10 chance of losing her or his livelihood. If one adds the 11% of targets who had to transfer to retain employment, 65% of targets had to leave the job they loved for no cause.

Furthermore, the target is driven to quit. Voluntary quitting (23%) is usually based on escalating health problems that families and physicians recognize, then encourage the target to leave the job. But 12% of quitting is based on decisions made after work conditions become untenable, so cruel as to drive a rational person to escape. Constructive discharge is the goal for many perpetrators. Terminations (8%) of the skilled but threatening (to bullies) targets are typically based on fabricated lies. Several WBI surveys of bullied targets substantiate this claim.

Accepting a transfer to retain a job (11%), to bullied targets, is often a source of perceived injustice. Their reasoning is “I did nothing to deserve the abuse, why should I be the one to leave the job I love and am best qualified to perform.” To many, transfers are punitive. On the other hand, it prevents economic devastation and might provide a degree of psychological safety.

The pattern of results from this national sample stands in marked contrast with WBI studies asking the same question of a sample of only bullied targets. To them, the ratio of negative consequences experienced by targets is 7:1 when compared to negatives for perpetrators. The public overestimates the proportion of negative consequences suffered by perpetrators.

In this 2017 version of the national survey, we added the option for respondents to choose –employers stopped the bullying by doing something positive and proactive such as creating a policy or conducting credible investigations. Ten percent of respondents chose this option.

Gary Namie, PhD
WBI Research Director

Download the pdf version of these Stopping the Bullying findings.

View findings related to other questions asked in the 2017 Survey.

Download the complete report of the 2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey.

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2017 WBI U.S. Survey: Reactions to Workplace Bullying of Employers and Witnesses

Friday, July 7th, 2017

2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey
Reactions to Workplace Bullying by Employers and Witnesses


71% of U.S. employers react to reports of abusive conduct in ways that harm targets
60% of coworker/witnesses’ reactions to bullying harmed their targeted colleagues

The Workplace Bullying Institute commissioned Zogby Analytics to conduct the 2017 national scientific U.S. survey across two days in late April. The stratified random sample of 1,008 individuals represented all adult Americans. [Zogby methodology and sample details here.] It was WBI’s fourth national survey.

We used the definition of workplace bullying that matches perfectly the definition codified in the Healthy Workplace Bill. Bullying is repeated mistreatment but also “abusive conduct.” We asked American survey respondents to consider only the most serious forms of bullying.

EMPLOYER REACTIONS

Employers have the power to either sustain or eliminate abusive conduct. Anecdotal evidence suggests that American employers rarely take steps to assist the aggrieved employee (the target). This question asks what the public believes employers actually do. [N = 479; no experience respondents deleted.]

Wording of the Employer Reaction Question: Upon learning of the abusive conduct, what did the employer do?

For many respondents, employer reactions were obscured. Two sub-groups of respondents were eliminated – “employer never learned” and “not sure” – representing 56% of the initial sample. For a host of possible reasons (e.g., the target never reported it), employer actions were unknown to over half of the sample. It is also very difficult for observers to be certain what employers know and what they do because so many actions are shrouded in secrecy beneath the veil of “confidentiality.”

Respondents who were sufficiently certain of what employers did, the remaining 44% of the sample [N = 212], concluded that 71% of employers took steps that did not benefit the targeted worker. The most frequent negative employer reaction is to conduct what targets describe as “sham” investigations characterized by major shortcomings. Investigator biases are often legend. Coworkers, for understandable reasons, fail to corroborate their bullied peer’s account of alleged bullying incidents. Key individuals are not interviewed. Greater weight is given to perpetrators’ versions of incidents. Objective historical documentation is ignored or discounted. “Sham” investigations end with an inconclusive result but with inadequate or inaccurate execution. To be fair to investigators with integrity, the process is fraught with problems in bullying cases different than investigations of routine conflict or illegal forms of discriminatory misconduct. An endpoint of “she said/she said” is common. WBI survey respondents say it happens in 46% of cases.

Because abusive conduct is a form of workplace violence, the complainant has likely suffered long prior to requesting an investigation. Therefore, when no work environment changes to restore psychological safety for complainants follow an investigation, investigators necessarily should understand the perception of incredulity by victims of the psychological violence.

Employer apologists might argue that an employer’s decision to do nothing is an act of neutrality. However, this is wrong. Doing nothing or showing indifference to filed complaints or discovering a procedural technicality to justify not responding to the complaints is an act of complicity with the aggressor. By enabling bullying with impunity, the institution takes the side of perpetrators and provides shelter from the accountability they seek. Doing nothing happens 26% of the time, according to the survey respondents.

Positive employer actions resulted in 29% of cases. Perpetrators endured negative outcomes in only 6% of the cases.

WITNESS REACTIONS

Results from several WBI online surveys of bullied targets reliably show that coworkers rarely help their bullied colleagues. Several social psychological processes operate in the group setting to explain the failure to act prosocially toward colleagues. The question explored a range of positive and negative actions taken by witnesses to the bullying. [N = 362 with no experience respondents and “not sure” respondents deleted.]

Wording of the Question: How did most of the witnesses react to the repeated mistreatment of their targeted coworker?

Doing nothing was the most cited tactic (40%). Of course, doing nothing to help colleagues when they are distressed is not a neutral act. It is negative. However, it is not the same as betraying the target by siding with the perpetrator(s), believed by respondents from the general American public to happen in only 4% of cases.

Positive witness reactions occurred in 40% of cases, according to survey respondents. Negative actions were taken in 60% of cases.

Gary Namie, PhD
WBI Research Director

Download the pdf version of these Employer and Witness Reaction findings.

View findings related to other questions asked in the 2017 Survey.

Download the complete report of the 2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey.

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2017 WBI U.S. Survey: How Rarely Bullied Targets Complain

Friday, July 7th, 2017

2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey
Notification by Bullied Targets


29% of targets remain silent about their abusive conduct
only 17% seek formal resolution

The Workplace Bullying Institute commissioned Zogby Analytics to conduct the 2017 national scientific U.S. survey across two days in late April. The stratified random sample of 1,008 individuals represented all adult Americans. [Zogby methodology and sample details here.] It was WBI’s fourth national survey.

We used the definition of workplace bullying that matches perfectly the definition codified in the Healthy Workplace Bill. Bullying is repeated mistreatment but also “abusive conduct.” We asked American survey respondents to consider only the most serious forms of bullying.

A key enabling factor of abusive conduct at work is silence. No one talks about what they have either witnessed or directly experienced. Personal shame is frequently a large part of the experience for targets. Without overt sharing of the bullying incidents and the impact of those incidents, the organizational culture that fostered bullying remains unchanged. Perpetrators rely on silence to act with impunity.

This survey question queried who, if anyone, targets told about their experiences and whether informal or formal resolution was sought through employers. [N = 380; no experience respondents and “not sure” respondents deleted.]

Wording of the Notification Question: To what extent did the targeted person make the mistreatment known?

Over one-quarter (29%) of targets were believed to have remained silent over their embarrassing experiences as recipients of abuse at work. Over one-half (53%) of respondents who felt certain about their perceptions of what targets said and to whom believed that targets engaged in only informal notification. That left 18%, less than one in five bullied targets who pursued formal steps to stop the bullying.

Of course, a silent target is likely to suffer from prolonged exposure to distressful work conditions. In fairness, employers cannot be expected to curb bullying when they hear no reports of its occurrence. Targets, without necessarily making a deliberate decision, become their own worst enemies. It is noteworthy that a group of targets of unknown size do choose to not inform their employers out of a genuine fear of retaliation and reprisal.

Contrary to the myth that victims (targets) are “sue-crazy,” only 5% take their stories outside the boundaries of their employers’ world. Thus, bullying is a secret kept by employers within their organizations. A mere 3% use federal or state agencies to seek redress. A miniscule 2% ever file a lawsuit. The author of this report, in the role of expert witness in litigation cases, can confirm that only a small proportion of file lawsuits ever make it the courtroom to be tried on the merits of the cases. The vast majority are tossed by judges acceding to employer motions for summary judgment or dismissal.

Gary Namie, PhD
WBI Research Director

Download the pdf version of these Notification By Target findings.

View findings related to other questions asked in the 2017 Survey.

Download the complete report of the 2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey.

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2017 WBI U.S. Survey: Health Impact on Bullied Targets

Friday, July 7th, 2017

2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey
Health Impact on Targets


40% of targets are believed to suffer adverse health consequences from bullying

The Workplace Bullying Institute commissioned Zogby Analytics to conduct the 2017 national scientific U.S. survey across two days in late April. The stratified random sample of 1,008 individuals represented all adult Americans. [Zogby methodology and sample details here.] It was WBI’s fourth national survey.

We used the definition of workplace bullying that matches perfectly the definition codified in the Healthy Workplace Bill. Bullying is repeated mistreatment but also “abusive conduct.” We asked American survey respondents to consider only the most serious forms of bullying.

The power of the workplace bullying movement is derived principally from the impact on the health of targeted individuals. Bullying is the dominant psychosocial stressor in the work environment of targeted workers. That stressor triggers the human stress response. In turn, with prolonged exposure to frequent incidents, targets risk the onset of stress-related diseases. In other words, bullying is an occupational health hazard

This question queries the American public about whether health harm from bullying manifested. [N = 479; no experience respondents deleted.]

Wording of the Target Health Question: Was the health of the targeted person adversely affected by the mistreatment?

The split between respondents (targets and witnesses only) who were certain bullying had created health harm was 40%:60% with the latter being those who could not be certain.

Several factors could account for the 60% of uncertain respondents. Targets rarely publicly share their health problems with colleagues. Personal shame suppresses an outpouring. Also targets can endure bullying for long periods of time without awareness that the source of the ill health is their workplace with an attacking bullying in it. That is, the causal links take time to be recognized by targets themselves. Target-respondents could have been part of the 60% of doubters. See Figure 4 below.

Witnesses, too, rarely get into conversations about medical maladies with targets. They, too, may be unwilling or unable to perceive the causal factors which contribute to their friends’ ill health.

[See the WBI extensive survey of bullied targets (a non-scientific sample) of the effects of bullying on targets’ health.]

Gary Namie, PhD
WBI Research Director

Download the pdf version of these Target Health Impact findings.

View findings related to other questions asked in the 2017 Survey.

Download the complete report of the 2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey.

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Results In: 2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

2017 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey
June 2017


Major funding from
MAPE Minnesota Association of Professional Employees

Report by
Gary Namie, PhD
© 2017, Workplace Bullying Institute, All rights reserved.

In our 2017 National Survey workplace bullying was defined as repeated mistreatment of an employee by one or more employees; abusive conduct that is: threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, work sabotage, or verbal abuse.

Bullying is “abusive conduct,” referring to its most serious forms only. This is consistent with the definition used in the Healthy Workplace Bill. Even with this high threshold, workplace bullying remains an American epidemic. Bullied individuals pay dearly with the loss of their economic livelihood to stop it. In the absence of legal prohibitions against it, employers are failing to take responsibility for its prevention and correction.

On the 20th anniversary of WBI’s founding, this is the fourth national scientific poll commissioned by the Workplace Bullying Institute, conducted by Zogby Analytics. Other years were 2014, 2010 and 2007. Past results can be viewed here.

Thanks to the generous donors to our GoFundMe campaign to cover the costs of the survey.

Key Findings


• 19% of Americans are bullied, another 19% witness it
• 61% of Americans are aware of abusive conduct in the workplace
• 60 million Americans are affected by it
• 70% of perpetrators are men; 60% of targets are women
• Hispanics are the most frequently bullied race
• 61% of bullies are bosses, the majority (63%) operate alone
• 40% of bullied targets are believed to suffer adverse health effects
• 29% of targets remain silent about their experiences
• 71% of employer reactions are harmful to targets
• 60% of coworker reactions are harmful to targets
• To stop it, 65% of targets lose their original jobs
• 77% of Americans support enacting a new law
• 45% report worsening of work relationships, post-Trump election

Infographic




Click on this link to view the 2017 WBI Survey Infographic
Download the Infographic in pdf format

Report Sections

You can download the COMPLETE REPORT here.

About MAPE, Major Sponsor

MAPE is a 14,000 member public-sector labor union which promotes the welfare and advances the interests of its members while acting as their exclusive representative concerning terms and conditions of employment. Members are probation officers analysts, scientists, foresters psychologists, zoologists and so much more. MAPE members work in all segments of state government to provide Minnesotans with the vital services they need. MAPE is proud to contribute to the high quality of life in Minnesota! The MAPE website.

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Social science observers of a presidential administration: then and now

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Historians count within their profession a subset who specialize in analyzing and critiquing the efficacy of U.S. Presidents. It’s less likely that social scientists apply their specialty to how successfully presidential administrations operate. That has certainly changed with Trump stepping into the role.

Evaluating how Trump’s habits and high self-regard can undermine his personal success, and in turn, quash hopes for a compassionate and caring federal government, has been the focus of many clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health professionals. The running commentary (and pseudo-diagnoses) by professionals who have no access to personally testing and interviewing Trump is said to violate the “Goldwater Rule” adopted in 1973 by the American Psychiatric Association after the failed presidential candidacy of Republican Barry Goldwater in 1964. The movie Dr. Strangelove was released in the campaign year.

It seems an article (Fact magazine, Sept-Oct 1964) exploring the mind of candidate Goldwater who held then-radical ideas contained results of a poll of 2100 psychiatrists, of whom 1,189 considered Goldwater unfit for office. Goldwater sued and won in court but only awarded $1. He did receive $75,000 in punitive damages. He sued for $1 million. Fact stopped publishing in 1967.

This historical self-imposed norm held among mental health types until Trump showed an inability to control impulsive behavior from the very start of his term in office. Since then, armchair analysts — some mental health professionals, lay public critics, and media commentators — have freely commented on Trump’s personality and behavioral shortcomings.

The justification for putting aside the Goldwater rule is that the ethical obligation to alert the public to potential harm from Trump’s conduct is more important than sitting on the sidelines and not sharing what can be inferred from his public misconduct. Two professors of psychiatry cry danger over Trump’s inability to distinguish fantasy from reality.
(more…)

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Lutgen-Sandvik: Bullied at work? What to do

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

Bullying in the workplace: How to recognize and address it
By Becky Parker, WDAZ-TV (Grand Forks, North Dakota), Oct. 22, 2015

Bullying is an issue people may think is reserved for the schoolyard, or even cyberspace.

But adult bullying in the workplace can have devastating effects on people’s lives.

One in 10 U.S. workers say they are being bullied at their jobs.

Forty-five-percent say they’ve been bullied at some point during their career, and another 25% say they’ve witnessed workplace bullying.

We spoke to North Dakota State University professor and researcher Pam Lutgen-Sandvik, who has been studying workplace bullying for nearly 15 years. [Note: Dr. Lutgen-Sandvik is a WBI friend & colleague; her research is featured prominently in the WBI training for professionals, Workplace Bullying University.]

She defines bullying as persistent, hostile, aggressive behavior that can be verbal or non-verbal.

Research shows adult bullying can lead to depression, eating disorders, sleeping disorders, PTSD and physical ailments.

It also increases the person’s stress levels and degrades their mental health by making them feel crazy, scared, and anxious.

“It also bleeds into families. When you’re bullied and abused at work you go home and sometimes there’s displaced aggression when you’re screaming at your family members, sort of that, ‘kick-the-dog’ kind of thing. We do know for sure it reduces people’s satisfaction with their personal lives,” says Lutgen-Sandvik.

Here’s what she says you should do if you are being bullied at work:

• Give it a name – define it as workplace bullying.
• Remember that it’s not your fault – bullies often make the victim feel crazy.
• Get some social support – like a counselor – as bullying can degrade your mental health.
• Take some time off from work to regroup and figure out how to address the problem.

“Trying to make sense of it and figure out what you’re going to do is really difficult when you’re in the environment and you’re constantly bombarded with this aggression and hostility. If it’s possible, take some time off of work so you can kind of get your bearings and figure out, ‘am I going to stay? If I’m not going to stay, what am I going to do here?'”

Many people in a bullying situation at work might want to fight back, but that can be risky.

Often, bullying situations at work involve an element of power. In the U.S., it’s usually a manager, but can also be a peer.

If you do choose to fight back, Lutgen-Sandvik says the best way is to talk to someone who has power over the bully.

Bring specific examples of bullying, have other co-workers to back you up, and have a clear goal in mind.

Lutgen-Sandvik says it is not a good idea to confront the bully directly.

“They will escalate the abuse worse than it ever was before, and drive the people out of the workplace because now they’ve become serious threats to the perpetrator. So, directly confronting the perpetrator, it’s really a very, I would say, dangerous thing to do.”

###

This is Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week and October is Bullying Prevention Month and Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Readers may click-to-purchase Adult Bullying, Pam’s chronicle of her decade of research into workplace bullying, written in easy-to-understand prose.

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The very real link between workplace bullying and suicide: Twice as likely to contemplate suicide

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

At WBI, Dr. Ruth, I and several of the staff have listened to long-winded tales of misery endured at the hands of workplace bullies for many years. It amazes us that as many people survive the process as they do. It’s a testament to human resilience.

Suicide is the abandonment of hope, of not seeing any future, of not perceiving alternatives. It happens. How often it is the choice of bullied workers is not known. The international pioneer of the movement, Heinz Leymann, wrote in the early 1990’s that about 10% of those bullied do take their lives. It was his educated guess.

Now comes an important study from our Norwegian friends at the Bergen Bullying Research Group led by Stale Einarsen. The principal author of the study published Sept. 17 in the American Journal of Public Health is Morten Birkeland Nielsen.

The subtitle of the article is “A 3-Wave Longitudinal Norwegian Study.” The key contribution made by the study is that it measured the same group of people during three different time periods. Its longitudinal approach clarifies the sequence of events. It was a test to determine which caused which — bullying at work or considering suicide (the academics and clinicians call it suicidal ideation). The one that preceded the other can be considered a cause of the second.

The study overcame a problem common to all cross-sectional studies (in which different groups of people are measured only once) — the question of correlation between factors. That is, if we ran a study here at the WBI website of bullied individuals and asked two questions — have you been bullied and have you considered suicide — and the two scores were highly correlated, we still could not say with certainty that bullying caused people to consider suicide. The Nielsen, et al., study solved that problem with its unique tracking of a single group over time — in 2005, 2007 and again in 2010. In wave 1, 2,539 (our of 4500 solicited from a national random sample) returned the researchers’ surveys. By 2010, the sample was still at 1,291 individuals — the final group with three measurements.

(more…)

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Workplace Bullying May Increase Risk of Suicidal Thoughts

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Workplace Bullying May Increase Risk of Suicidal Thoughts
By Lisa Rapaport, Reuters News Service, Sept. 17, 2015

(Reuters Health) – Workers who are victims of bullying on the job may become more likely to contemplate suicide than people who don’t experience a hostile office environment, a Norwegian study suggests.

Researchers surveyed a nationally representative sample of roughly 1850 workers and followed them from 2005 to 2010. While less than five percent of participants reported thoughts of suicide during the study period, they were about twice as likely to do so after being victims of workplace bullying.

“Our study adds to the understanding of how bullying is related to thoughts about suicide by showing that the perception of being bullied at work actually is a precursor of suicidal ideation and not a consequence,” said lead study author Morten Birkeland Nielsen of the National Institute of Occupational Health and the University of Bergen.

At least 800,000 people worldwide take their own lives each year, making suicide a leading cause of death, Nielsen and colleagues write in the American Journal of Public Health.

Although psychiatric disorders are involved in the majority of suicide attempts, most people with mental health disorders don’t take their own lives, the researchers note.

(more…)

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