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Conference to address the definition of bullying

Bullying in nursing is often dismissed as a rite of passage, yet the definition remains poorly defined.

What exactly is bullying and is it in the eye of the beholder? That’s the question James Cook University’s Peter Hartin will answer as he gives us an insight into his presentation to be held at the Australian College of Nursing’s National Nursing Forum on the Gold Coast in August, with this year’s theme being ‘Diversity and Difference’.

Hartin believes the lack of a clear definition impedes the ability to conceptualise the phenomenon of bullying in consistent terms, complicating potential collaboration among researchers and practitioners, and contributing to an inconsistency in findings across studies.

“Definitions that do exist can be vague, inconsistent and contradictory, reflecting the complexity of bullying in the workplace and the consequent diverse perceptions of bullying to those who witness or experience it,” Hartin said.

He said the concept of the standard term ‘repeated behaviour’ often muddied the case and that his research aimed to improve this definition. For example, if you take the concept of frequency and time out, it raises more questions than solutions.

“Can a registered nurse be bullied on their first day of work? With the definition the answer is no, so why should they endure repeated action of over a period of time to be able to report it?” he asked.

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