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The impact of bullying on health care administration staff: Reduced commitment beyond the influences of negative affectivity

Rodwell, John; Demir, Defne; Parris, Melissa; Steane, Peter; Noblet, Andrew

doi: 10.1097/HMR.0b013e31823dc2ec

Background: Investigations of workplace bullying in health care settings have tended to focus on nurses or other clinical staff. However, the organizational and power structures enabling bullying in health care are present for all employees, including administrative staff.

Purposes: The purpose of this study was to specifically focus on health care administration staff and examine the prevalence and consequences of workplace bullying in this occupational group.

Methodology/Approach: A cross-sectional study was conducted based on questionnaire data from health care administration staff who work across facilities within a medium to large health care organization in Australia. The questionnaire included measures of bullying, negative affectivity (NA), job satisfaction, organizational commitment, well-being, and psychological distress. The three hypotheses of the study were that (a) workplace bullying will be linked to negative employee outcomes, (b) individual differences on demographic factors will have an impact on these outcomes, and (c) individual differences in NA will be a significant covariate in the analyses. The hypotheses were tested using t tests and analyses of covariances.

Findings: A total of 150 health care administration staff completed the questionnaire (76% response rate). Significant main effects were found for workplace bullying, with lower organizational commitment and well-being with the effect on commitment remaining over and above NA. Main effects were found for age on job satisfaction and for employment type on psychological distress. A significant interaction between bullying and employment type for psychological distress was also observed. Negative affectivity was a significant covariate for all analyses of covariance.

Practice Implications: The applications of these results include the need to consider the occupations receiving attention in health care to include administration employees, that bullying is present across health care occupations, and that some employees, particularly part-time staff, may need to be managed slightly differently to the full-time workforce.

John Rodwell, BA, PGDipPsych, PhD, is Professor, Faculty of Business, Australian Catholic University, Victoria, Australia. E-mail:

Defne Demir, BBSc(Hons), is Research Fellow, Faculty of Business, Australian Catholic University, Victoria, Australia.

Melissa Parris, BCom (Management), MCom(Hons), PhD, is Senior Lecturer, School of Management and Marketing, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia.

Peter Steane, BTheol, DipEd, Med, PhD, FAICD, is Associate Dean, Faculty of Business, Australian Catholic University, Victoria, Australia.

Andrew Noblet, BEd(Sec), GDipMgt, PhD, is Associate Professor, Graduate School of Business, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia.

This research was part-funded by the Australian Research Council.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationship with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.