Individual antecedents of workplace victimisation: The role of negative affect, personality and self-esteem in junior doctors' exposure to bullying at work

Int J Health Plann Manage. 2020 Sep;35(5):1065-1082. doi: 10.1002/hpm.2985. Epub 2020 May 28.


Previous studies have indicated that junior doctors commonly experience workplace bullying and that it may adversely impact medical training and delivery of quality healthcare. Yet, evidence on the precursors of bullying among them remains elusive. Drawing on the individual-disposition hypothesis, the present paper examined the relationships of negative affect, personality and self-esteem with workplace bullying among junior doctors. Multilevel analysis of a universal sample (n = 1074) of junior doctors working in the central zone of Malaysia using mixed effects logistic regression was performed. The results indicate that participants with moderate (AOR 4.40, 95% CI 2.20-8.77) and high degree (AOR 13.69, 95% CI 6.46-29.02) of negative affect as well as high degree of neuroticism (AOR 2.99, 95% CI 1.71-5.21) have higher odds of being bullied compared to their counterparts. The findings present evidence that individual traits are associated with junior doctors' exposure to bullying. While victim blaming should be avoided, this suggest that antibullying measures with an interpersonal focus should be considered when developing antibullying initiatives targeted at junior doctors. This includes primary intervention such as cognitive training, secondary interventions such as resource enhancement building and conflict management skills training, and tertiary interventions such as counselling.

Keywords: healthcare management; healthcare policy; individual factors; junior doctors; workplace bullying.

MeSH terms

  • Bullying / psychology*
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Malaysia
  • Medical Staff
  • Personality*
  • Self Concept*
  • Workplace*