Bullying in the Australian medical workforce: cross-sectional data from an Australian e-Cohort study

Aust Health Rev. 2012 May;36(2):197-204. doi: 10.1071/AH11048.


Objective: This study aimed to describe the prevalence of perceived workplace bullying in the Australian medical workforce, and investigate the relationship between workplace bullying and job satisfaction, health status, and current and planned medical workforce participation.

Methods: An electronic cross-sectional survey of doctors currently in the paid workforce, conducted between April 2008 and October 2009, was nested within a longitudinal cohort study investigating factors affecting the recruitment and retention of the Australian medical workforce. To address the specific aims of this study, a subset of questions in the survey investigated the prevalence of self-reported bullying; physical and mental health; workforce participation patterns; job satisfaction; and job stressors.

Results: Seven hundred and forty-seven participants responded to the bullying question and were included in this analysis. Twenty-five percent of participants reported being bullied in the last 12 months. There were no differences in the reported rates of bullying across age groups, sex and country of medical qualification. Bullied doctors were least satisfied with their jobs (P<0.001), had taken more sick leave in the last 12 months (P<0.001), and were more likely to be planning to decrease the number of hours worked in medicine in the next 12 months (P=0.01) or ceasing direct patient care in the next 5 years (independent of their age or the number of hours currently worked in patient care) (P=0.006).

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that Australian doctors, independent of age or sex, have experienced workplace bullying, and although no conclusions can be made about causal pathways, there were strong associations between this exposure and poorer health and wellbeing, and on remaining in the medical workforce.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Bullying / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Workplace / statistics & numerical data*