Workplace bullying among nurses in Saudi Arabia : an exploratory qualitative study : a 152.800 thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Management at Massey University
Background: Health-care professionals are among the groups persistently
exposed to hostile behaviours in the workplace. It has been well documented that
nursing staff in particular are often exposed to workplace bullying, and this is
often associated with their stressful and challenging work conditions. Most
research on workplace bullying has been undertaken in European countries, North
America or Australasia. However, in the Arab region, particularly Saudi Arabia,
there is little or no research addressing workplace bullying.
Aim: The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to conduct a preliminary
investigation into the issue of workplace bullying among nurses working in Saudi
Arabia, and gain an understanding of their experiences and perceptions of this
Method: Thirty semi-structured interviews were conducted in five public
hospitals in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with a sample of full-time nurses who had been
employed for at least six months. The interviews covered selected concepts
derived from relevant literature including work relations; understanding the
workplace bullying concept; perceptions of prevalence; antecedents; targets and
perpetrators; impact; and management’s response. Interviews were transcribed
and thematically analysed using Nvivo 10 computer software.
Findings: The study indicated that bullying is a prevalent problem among nurses.
There are common meanings attached to bullying and bullying comprises mostly
direct or indirect verbal acts. Specific targets of bullying were perceived to
included new nurses, certain nationalities, and staff members who were quiet and
accepting. Bullying was perceived to be the result of hierarchy and power,
discrimination, the work environment, and the targets’ silence. Bullying impacted
nurses through psychological outcomes and work- and patient-related outcomes.
Different coping strategies, as well as different management responses, were
identified in the study.
Conclusions: Findings from this study provide evidence for the existence of
workplace bullying; participants had both experienced and witnessed bullying as
they sought to fit into challenging workplaces. Overlooking the triggers of
bullying might put the recruitment and retention of nurses in Saudi hospitals at
risk. Management and policy makers in hospitals may benefit from a deeper
understanding of workplace bullying, and could help the problem by formulating
and implementing prevention strategies. This study serves as a starting point for
further research in Saudi Arabia and the Arab region in general.