• bullying;
  • aggression;
  • patients;
  • staff;
  • personality;
  • disorder;
  • secure hospital


The present study explored the perceptions and experiences of the nature, extent and causes of bullying among personality-disordered patients, with a subsidiary aim of exploring differences in perceptions between staff and patients. The sample was selected from the Personality Disorder Unit of a high secure hospital. The total sample consisted of 60 participants, 30 patients and 30 staff. Participants engaged in a semi-structured interview based on that developed by Brookes [1993] and modified by Ireland and Archer [1996] and Ireland [2002a]. The interview assessed their perceptions and experiences of patient-to-patient bullying. One fifth of patients and staff reported that they had seen a patient being bullied in the previous week. One-fifth of patients reported that they had been bullied in the previous week and less than one tenth reported that they had bullied others. The most frequent types of bullying reported were theft-related, verbal abuse, being made to do chores, physical assaults and intimidation. One fifth of the sample reported that sexual abuse took place. Victims were generally perceived to be ‘easy targets’ that were vulnerable, either physically or emotionally. Staff identified a wider range of victim types than patients. The results highlight how patient-to-patient bullying does occur and is an important issue worthy of further research. A number of similarities were found between the current findings and those of prison-based research suggesting that both hospitals and prisons share a number of environmental similarities that help to explain why bullying takes placed in secure forensic settings. Aggr. Behav. 30:229–242, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.