Empowerment as a Strategy to Combat Horizontal Violence

  • Fatima Shah


Horizontal violence can take on various forms within the healthcare system including workplace bullying, incivility, hostility, and other forms of disruptive behaviours towards a fellow nurse (Egues & Leinung, 2013; Lachman, 2014; Myers et al., 2016). This type of violence can have lasting negative effects on the nurse experiencing such attitudes and behaviours, including feelings of powerlessness, fearfulness to continue to work, burnout, decreased morale, and a lessened sense of worth leading to feelings of regret for their chosen career path (Taylor & Taylor, 2017; Myers et al., 2016). It can also have drastic effects on patient outcomes and overall care, as horizontal violence can lead to patient complaints towards the care being given, increases in errors, and job dissatisfaction that can be felt and recognized by the patient (Egues & Leinung, 2013). Although horizontal violence is a growing issue within the nursing field, an even bigger concern is the acceptance of such behaviours as being a part of the job of nursing. Studies have suggested that when nurses are faced or are witnesses to aggressive behaviours from fellow co-workers, they do not recognize it as being a form of horizontal violence, further perpetuating the acceptance of such behaviours (Sellers, Millenbach, Kovach & Yingling, 2009-2010; Sellers, Millenbach, Ward & Scribani, 2012; Taylor & Taylor, 2017). Recognition of the types of bullying-like behaviours, as well as developing a strategy that allows for nurses within the organization to feel positively empowered rather than negatively dissatisfied and developing a desire to leave the workforce, are important steps in eradicating this devastating culture that exists within nursing.