Bullying at work, health outcomes, and physiological stress response

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Abstract

The relationships among bullying or witnessing bullying at work, self-reported health symptoms, and physiological stress reactivity were analysed in a sample of 437 employees (294 women and 143 men). Physiological stress reactivity was measured as cortisol in the saliva. Of the respondents, 5% of the women (n=15) and 5% of the men (n=7) reported bullying, whereas 9% of the women (n=25) and 11% of the men (n=15) had witnessed bullying at work. The results indicated that the bullied respondents had lower social support from coworkers and supervisors, and they reported more symptoms of somatisation, depression, anxiety, and negative affectivity (NA) than did the nonbullied respondents. Witnesses reported more symptoms of anxiety and lower support from supervisor than did the nonbullied employees. Concentrations of cortisol in the saliva were lower at awakening in bullied respondents compared with nonbullied respondents. Previous studies have reported lower diurnal concentration of cortisol for people with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic fatigue. To our knowledge, this is the first full study on the associations among being subjected to bullying, health outcomes, and physiological stress response. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychiatry

Keywords

  • physiological stress response, negative affectivity, health symptoms, bullying, witnesses of bullying
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-72
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Volume60
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes