Research

Experiences of workplace bullying among academics in a health sciences faculty at a South African university

D N Conco, L Baldwin-Ragaven, N J Christofides, E Libhaber, L C Rispel, J A White, B Kramer

Abstract


Background. Workplace bullying and other negative workplace behaviours are problems that need to be addressed across many work settings, including at universities.

Objectives. To examine the prevalence of bullying among academics, and factors associated with bullying, in a faculty of health sciences (FHS) of a South African university.

Methods. All academic staff, except senior managers, were invited to participate by completing a self-administered, web-based questionnaire hosted on REDCap. In adition to sociodemographic information, the survey collected information on bullying, and the factors associated with experiences of workplace bullying. Survey data were exported to Stata 13 for analysis. The data were weighted to take account of the distribution of staff in the FHS. Chi-square tests and a multiple logistic regression model for bullying were utilised.

Results. The majority of study participants were white (52%), female (70%) and South African (85%). Bullying in the workplace was experienced by 58% of respondents, of whom 44% experienced bullying more than once, and 64% of participants had witnessed bullying. Being female (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 1.83; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.14 - 2.93; p<0.05) and being jointly appointed as both a clinician in a health facility and an academic in the university (aOR 1.73; 95% CI 1.29 - 2.32; p<0.001) increased the odds of experiencing workplace bullying.

Conclusions. A combination of strategies is needed, including clear FHS policies to prevent bullying, training in bullying prevention and critical diversity, and positive practice environments.


Authors' affiliations

D N Conco, School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

L Baldwin-Ragaven, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

N J Christofides, School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

E Libhaber, Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; Health Sciences Research Office, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

L C Rispel, School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI), National Research Foundation, South Africa

J A White, School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

B Kramer, School of Anatomical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Keywords

Bullying; Academic environment; Faculty; Health sciences; Institutional culture

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2021;111(4):315-320. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2021.v111i4.15319

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-03-31
Date published: 2021-03-31

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