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Nursing Management

March 2014, Volume 45 Number 3 , p 11 - 15


  • Ericka Sanner-Stiehr PhD(c), BSN, RN
  • Peggy Ward-Smith PhD, RN


Lateral violence, or workplace bullying, may be verbal-persistent criticism, gossiping, yelling, or berating-or nonverbal, including the behaviors of undermining, sabotaging, clique formation, failure to respect privacy or keep confidences, and assigning unmanageable workloads.1 In addition to creating a toxic work environment, lateral violence can result in psychological distress for the person experiencing it, such as anxiety, depression, loss of self-esteem, decreased work productivity, and increased absenteeism.2,3 New nurses are particularly at risk for negative personal and professional outcomes when lateral violence is encountered.4 Although there's a multitude of research exploring and describing the outcomes of lateral violence, there are few studies guided by a theoretical framework.We discuss lateral violence using a case study research approach and the Nurse as Wounded Healer (NWH) framework to describe how the decision is made to leave a job because of lateral violence.5It has been posited that the NWH model is applicable for the nurse who has experienced lateral violence.6 Implementation of the steps outlined in the NWH model allows the nurse to identify, process, transform, and ultimately transcend incidences of lateral violence. (See Figure 1.) If a lateral violence episode isn't appropriately resolved, the nurse may continue to experience lateral violence or become a perpetrator of lateral violence.Any incidence of lateral violence, the selection of a person to target, and the response(s) from that person depend on multiple factors. The overall work environment and one's perception of managerial/administrative support may vary, which contributes to lateral violence behavior. Previous personal experience with lateral violence, either as a target or bystander, influences subsequent reactions. If decreased self-esteem occurred as a result of previous exposure, the person will be an easy target, yet previous exposure to lateral violence provides the opportunity

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