Incivility in the workplace: A study of nursing staff in the Military Health System

Colleen Spiri, Meredith Brantley, Jason McGuire


Incivility in the workplace is associated with decreased quality of performance. In a healthcare setting, decreased performance diminishes the opportunity for excellence in patient care and introduces potential threats to patient safety and wellbeing. Affected individuals and those who witness the most severe form of workplace incivility, including bullying, are likely to experience negative psychosocial consequences such as depression, substance abuse, and suicide. The degree to which different forms of incivility persist in healthcare settings is unclear and as a result, the sources of workplace incivility and its effects on nursing staff and their patients are also not well established. This study explored the prevalence of eight different forms of incivility toward nursing staff, profiles of the main offenders of incivility, and the impact of each behavior on patient care from the perspective of a sample of nursing staff affiliated with one Military Health System (MHS) hospital. Condescending language (56%) and impatience with questions (58%) were most commonly reported as occurring sometimes or often in the workplace.  Nursing peers were cited as the most common source of incivility (33%). Negative impacts of workplace incivility on patient care included breakdown in communication, often involving nursing staff avoiding uncivil coworkers. Findings suggest the importance of implementing interventions designed to reduce incivility in military healthcare settings.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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