Prevalence of workplace bullying and risk groups: a representative population study

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2009 Feb;82(3):417-26. doi: 10.1007/s00420-008-0339-8. Epub 2008 Jun 27.


Objectives: To estimate the prevalence of bullying and to identify risk groups in a representative population sample.

Methods: The data for this study was taken from the second Danish Psychosocial Work Environment Study (DPWES). The sample consisted of 3,429 employees between 20 and 59-years. The response rate for the study was 60.4%.

Results: The study showed that 8.3% of the respondents had been bullied within the past year, 1.6% of the sample reported daily to weekly bullying. Co-workers (71.5%) and managers/supervisors (32.4%) were most often reported as perpetrators of bullying, but bullying from subordinates (6%) was also reported. We found significant differences in the prevalence of bullying for both occupational status and work process, a variable characterizing the employees main task in their job. Unskilled workers reported the highest prevalence of bullying, while managers/supervisors the lowest prevalence. People working with things (male-dominated occupations) and people working with clients/patients (female-dominated occupations) reported higher prevalence of bullying than people working with symbols or customers. No significant gender or age differences were found.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that types of work and gender ratio are risk factors in the onset of workplace bullying. Future studies should take into account the type of work and the gender ratio of the organization.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Occupations*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Behavior*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace / psychology
  • Young Adult