Bullies at Work: The Impact of Horizontal Hostility in the Hospital Setting and Intent to Leave

J Nurs Adm. 2011 Nov;41(11):453-8. doi: 10.1097/NNA.0b013e3182346e90.


The phenomenon of bullying or peer incivility in nursing is not new or confined to nurses. Behaviors consistent with horizontal hostility (HH) range from overt behavioral manifestations such as infighting among nurses; sabotage (where pertinent information is intentionally withheld); passive-aggressive behavior; eye rolling in response to a question; or verbal remarks that are snide, rude, and demeaning, to more covert behaviors including failure to respect confidences and privacy. Horizontal hostility can lead to profound and long-lasting effects, including diminished productivity and increased absenteeism. This study surveyed RNs at a community hospital in the Southwest to determine (a) the degree of HH in the workplace and (b) the extent that the perception of HH affected ill calls and the likelihood of leaving their current position. The authors make recommendations about the prevention, identification, and handling of HH behaviors.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Bullying / psychology*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Community
  • Hostility*
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Peer Group
  • Personnel Turnover*
  • Southwestern United States
  • Workplace / organization & administration
  • Workplace / psychology