• Verbal abuse;
  • work environment;
  • early career registered nurses;
  • bullying;
  • disruptive behavior



This study examined relationships between verbal abuse from nurse colleagues and demographic characteristics, work attributes, and work attitudes of early career registered nurses (RNs).

Design and Methods

Data are from the fourth wave of a national panel survey of early career RNs begun in 2006. The final analytic sample included 1,407 RNs. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the sample, analysis of variance to compare means, and chi square to compare categorical variables.


RNs reporting higher levels of verbal abuse from nurse colleagues were more likely to be unmarried, work in a hospital setting, or work in a non-magnet hospital. They also had lower job satisfaction, and less organizational commitment, autonomy, and intent to stay. Lastly, they perceived their work environments unfavorably.


Data support the hypothesis that early career RNs are vulnerable to the effects of verbal abuse from nurse colleagues. Although more verbal abuse is seen in environments with unfavorable working conditions, and RNs working in such environments tend to have less favorable work attitudes, one cannot assume causality. It is unclear if poor working conditions create an environment where verbal abuse is tolerated or if verbal abuse creates an unfavorable work environment.

Clinical Relevance

There is a need to develop and test evidence-based interventions to deal with the problems inherent with verbal abuse from nurse colleagues.