The association between workplace bullying and depressive symptoms: the role of the perpetrator

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Eszter Török, Åse Marie Hansen, Matias Brødsgaard Grynderup, Anne Helene Garde, Annie Høgh, Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen

BACKGROUND: The aim of the present study was to investigate whether the depressive symptoms of the bullied respondents differed according to who the perpetrator was.

METHODS: We used cross-sectional questionnaire data from two representative cohorts: the Danish Working Environment Cohort Study (DWECS 2010) and the Work and Health Study (WH 2012). After excluding respondents not having a leader, or being self-employed, assisting spouses, and those reporting multiple perpetrators in WH 2012, the statistical analysis included 2478 bullied individuals. We compared respondents reporting being bullied by their (1) leader, (2) subordinates, (3) clients / customers / patients / students, or (4) colleagues, respectively. The occurrence of depressive symptoms was measured by the Major Depression Inventory (MDI).

RESULTS: The most frequent perpetrator of bullying was clients (41.5 %) in DWECS 2010 and colleagues (60.3 %) in WH 2012. In DWECS 2010, the MDI score of those being bullied by clients were significantly lower than the MDI scores of the other groups. In WH 2012, respondents who reported bullying from leaders had a significantly higher mean MDI score than participants being bullied by colleagues. Also in WH 2012, our results indicated that those who were bullied by leaders had a higher MDI score than those bullied by clients, although this difference was not statistically significant at conventional levels.

CONCLUSION: Our findings indicated a similar pattern in the two cohorts, with a tendency of more severe depressive symptoms among employees who are exposed to bullying by their leaders, and the least severe symptoms among those who are bullied by clients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number993
JournalBMC Public Health
Volume16
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
ISSN1471-2458
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sep 2016

    Research areas

  • Journal Article

ID: 166005615