Nurse Bullying Study: Ethical Perspectives

Table of Contents

Even though the nursing practice is guided by various ethical principles and standards, the issue of bullying is still observed in nurses’ workplace, affecting their psychological state and provoking decreases in facilities’ profit. Focusing on the ethical perspective of inquiry, it is important to discuss the issue from the point of moral obstacles that can affect the ways of how the medical community responds to the issue.

The research question related to this inquiry is the following one: How does the medical community address the psychological effects of nurse bullying in the workplace in the context of faced ethical obstacles? The cultural perspective selected for the research is related to determining what cultures or societies can be most affected by the discussed issue. The research question associated with this perspective of inquiry is the following: What is the connection between nurse bullying, turnover rates, and decreased profits in the context of different cultures represented in the workplace? The purpose of this paper is to address the formulated research questions for each perspective concerning the existing literature in the field and conclude regarding possible insights.

The Ethical Perspective of Inquiry

The first question to discuss in detail is how the medical community usually addresses certain psychological effects of nurse bullying in the workplace concerning experienced ethical obstacles. According to Berry, Gillespie, Fisher, Gormley, and Haynes (2016), the key ethical obstacle in this area is the unwillingness of authorities to accept the fact that nurse bullying exists in the healthcare system. This aspect influences the response of the medical community to the controversial issue of workplace violence.

From the ethical perspective, medical authorities often make a wrong choice when avoiding the accentuation of the problem of nurse bullying because this issue affects both nurses and patients. Thus, Koh (2016) states that nurses as victims of bullying can suffer from such psychological problems as stress, anxiety, sleeping disorders, and mood disorders among others while remaining unaddressed and untreated.

In addition, the effect of nurse bullying on patients is also significantly negative due to the decreased quality of care, and it represents another ethical barrier (Berry et al., 2016; Koh, 2016). Those nurses who regularly become victims of workplace violence and suffer from stress cannot provide effective care.

Nursing practice is regulated by the code of ethics, but the medical community often fails to prevent nurse bullying because of ignoring different forms it can take: discrimination, verbal abuse, physical abuse, and psychological pressure. This avoidance of accepting the presence of workplace violence and bullying in healthcare facilities is also considered among ethical obstacles medical providers face when discussing this issue (Berry et al., 2016; Koh, 2016).

As a result, the problem is that the psychological effects of bullying on nurses become ignored, causing more difficulties for healthcare professionals who can suffer from different mental conditions, disorders, and syndromes (Berry et al., 2016). The situation creates the grounds for discussing the ethical dilemma of how to overcome the issue of avoiding the necessity of resolving the problem of nurse bullying. The reason for the medical community to address the issue of nurse bullying is to prevent negative psychological effects on nurses that usually lead to decreasing the quality of their work (Koh, 2016). The research literature indicates that more efforts are required to address workplace violence for nurses to decrease their psychological and social pressure.

The Cultural Perspective of Inquiry

In the context of the cultural perspective, the research question is associated with determining the connection between the problem of nurse bullying, turnover rates in healthcare facilities, and decreased profits concerning different cultures. Thus, researchers have found that representatives of some ethnicities and races suffer from bullying in the nursing workplace more than others (Sabri et al., 2015; Schilgen, Nienhaus, Handtke, Schulz, & Mösko, 2017).

African Americans and Hispanics, as well as migrant workers from different countries, are reported to be most affected by workplace violence and bullying in facilities in comparison to the majority population (Schilgen et al., 2017). The researchers explain the trend concerning the ideas of racial discrimination and prejudice that are often observed in healthcare workplaces.

The available research on nurse bullying supports the opinion that nurses as representatives of minority groups more often become victims of workplace violence than their colleagues. Thus, the percentage of bullied migrant nurses is higher when comparing it to the percentage of bullied representatives of the majority (Schilgen et al., 2017). This aspect is also explained concerning bias and discriminatory practices that can be observed in the workplace of different medical facilities (Sabri et al., 2015). However, researchers also state that bullying is even more typical among White nurses than among Asian and Black nurses, and this aspect also allows for discussing the cultural factor concerning the analyzed issue. The reason is that the organizational culture significantly affects the cases of bullying in medical facilities.

As a result of nurse bullying, those nurses who belong to minority groups or who are migrants are more likely to leave their position. From this perspective, workplace violence and bullying associated with the cultural issue can affect increases in turnover rates (Koh, 2016; Sabri et al., 2015; Schilgen et al., 2017). In addition, the literature on the topic indicates that the situation of discriminating and bullying nurses as representatives of minorities can negatively affect healthcare profits (Koh, 2016; Sabri et al., 2015). The reason is that healthcare authorities are interested in attracting high-qualified migrant nurses, and they usually set lower salaries for them (Schilgen et al., 2017). As a result, hospitals become able to address the problem of nurse shortages and increase patient outcomes, as well as overall revenues.


Although the problem of bullying in nursing remains an under-researched controversial topic, much attention should be paid to studying this issue. The reason is in risks that nurse bullying can negatively affect the psychological state of abused nurses, and these problems can potentially lead to decreased patient outcomes, increased turnover rates, and adverse effects on profitability.

This problem should also be analyzed from the ethical and cultural perspectives because the issue is highly provocative in terms of following codes of ethics and standards prescribed for nurses. Moreover, it is also reported in research on the topic that representatives of minorities and migrant nurses often become victims of bullying in the workplace. This situation can lead to increased stress, psychological problems, and decisions to leave the position. Still, the important issue of bullying in nursing requires more research to address all associated concerns.


Berry, P., Gillespie, G., Fisher, B. S., Gormley, D., & Haynes, J. (2016). Psychological distress and workplace bullying among registered nurses. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 21(3), 1-4.

Koh, W. M. S. (2016). Management of workplace bullying in hospital: A review of the use of cognitive rehearsal as an alternative management strategy. International Journal of Nursing Sciences, 3(2), 213-222.

Sabri, B., Vil, N. M., Campbell, J. C., Fitzgerald, S., Kub, J., & Agnew, J. (2015). Racial and ethnic differences in factors related to workplace violence victimization. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 37(2), 180-196.

Schilgen, B., Nienhaus, A., Handtke, O., Schulz, H., & Mösko, M. (2017). Health situation of migrant and minority nurses: A systematic review. PloS One, 12(6), 1-7.

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