Nurses' post-traumatic stress symptoms and growth by perceived workplace bullying: An online cross-sectional study

J Nurs Manag. 2021 Jul;29(5):1338-1347. doi: 10.1111/jonm.13275. Epub 2021 Feb 8.


Aim: The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between workplace bullying and mental health, focusing on the indirect effect of post-traumatic stress responses and moderation of nurses' perception of workplace bullying.

Background: Post-traumatic stress symptoms frequently result from workplace bullying, but how nurses' individual appraisals relate to negative consequences is unclear.

Method: A cross-sectional online survey was conducted with 319 Korean nurses; participants were divided into the perceived and non-perceived workplace bullying groups. Moderated mediation models were tested using structural equation modelling with Stata version 16.

Results: Regardless of nurses' appraisals, higher levels of workplace bullying were associated with poor mental health. Post-traumatic stress symptoms indirectly impacted the relationship in both groups, but post-traumatic growth did not. The perceived group showed a partial negative association between post-traumatic growth and mental health.

Conclusion: It is necessary to develop systems for early detection of mental health problems to create safe work environments not only for nurses who perceive workplace bullying but also for those who do not.

Implications for nursing management: Staff education and institutional support that consider PTSS are recommended for all nurses.

Keywords: bullying; perception; post-traumatic growth; post-traumatic stress; psychological adaptation.

MeSH terms

  • Bullying*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Nurses*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / etiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace