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January 2012, Volume 42 Number 1 , p 44 - 49


  • Cheryl Dumont PhD, RN, CRNI
  • Sandy Meisinger BSN, RN
  • Mary Jo Whitacre MSN, RN
  • Gloria Corbin MSN, RN


HORIZONTAL VIOLENCE (HV), or bullying in the workplace, is a well-known phenomenon. The term refers to negative behaviors that intimidate or demean another. Also called lateral violence, HV is defined by the International Council of Nurses as "behavior that humiliates, degrades, or otherwise indicates a lack of respect for the dignity and worth of an individual."1HV is of particular concern in the healthcare setting because it disrupts relationships and causes barriers to communication needed to effectively care for our patients.2,3 HV has also been identified as having a negative impact on nurse retention and recruitment.4,5In the spring of 2011, Nursing2011 conducted a survey to identify the frequency with which nurses experience or witness HV. The frequency of HV was measured with a 6-point Likert scale and can be interpreted with the following key:1 = never2 = once3 = a few times4 = monthly5 = weekly6 = daily.In addition, information was gleaned about the perpetrators of HV and how HV has affected the nurses who experience it. This article presents the results of the survey. Please note that not all respondents answered all questions and that percentages have been rounded.The survey was offered on the Internet and through paper copy from Nursing2011 during March, April, and May 2011. There were 955 survey respondents. In addition, the journal received 14 letters in response to this survey. The letters, some as many as 5 pages long, and the comments in the survey itself revealed the strong emotions associated with the HV phenomenon. One respondent indicated that this topic shouldn't be given attention by the profession and expressed the opinion that the behaviors identified as HV or bullying are insignificant considering the broader perspective of what nurses face within their professional environment. But most respondents expressed concern and support for work to be done on decreasing the negative behaviors associated with HV. (See Respondent snapshot for more details

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