Aim and objective. This study sought to explore the nature of bullying in the Australian nursing workplace.
Background. While there is widespread concern about the extent and consequences of bullying among nurses, to date, there have been no published reports cataloguing the types of behaviours that constitute bullying.
Design. Reported here are findings from the first stage of a three-stage sequential mixed methods study.
Methods. The first, qualitative stage of this study employed in-depth, semi structured interviews with 26 nurses who had experienced bullying from two Australian area health services. Content analysis of the verbatim interview transcripts was performed using the nvivo 7 software program.
Results. The analysis identified six major categories and constituent sub-categories. The typology of bullying behaviours reported here is one of these major categories.
Conclusion. The typology of behaviours developed from the study provides detailed insights into the complexity of bullying experienced by nurses. The behaviours were labelled: personal attack, erosion of professional competence and reputation, and attack through work roles and tasks. These themes provide insight into the construct of bullying by providing a detailed catalogue of bullying behaviours that show that bullying is frequently masked in work tasks or work processes and focused on damaging the reputation and status of targets.
Relevance to clinical practice. The detailed catalogue of bullying behaviours draws attention to the breadth of the bullying experience. It is anticipated the typology will be of use to nurses, managers and other professionals who are interested in responding to the problem of bullying in nursing.