Workplace Bullying Is Common Says New Study

Bullying within the workplace is a common occurrence that may lead to medication use, researchers explain.

ABC News reports that a survey-based study, published earlier this week in the journal BMJ, indicates that one in eight men and one in five women admitted to being bullied at their place of employment. Based in Finland and composed of over 6,000 participants, the self-reported victims had a higher instance of psychotropic medication use such as antidepressants and sedatives.

Authored by Dr. Tea Lalluka of the University of Hilsinki, the study found that results were stronger for men versus women. Male bullying victims were slightly more likely to use medications than their female counterparts.

People who witness the bullying of co-workers can also be affected. The study shows that witnesses can be up to twice as likely to require the same types of medications.

The unsettling conclusions are the result of research data from the Helsinki Health Study. Participants were municipal employees of the city, located in Finland. Of the 6,287 workers surveyed, 80 percent were female, and all subjects were between the ages of 40 and 60 years old and did not initially use psychotropic medications.

According to MedPage Today:

“The participants reported their experiences with workplace bullying in response to two questions — one about being bullied and one about observing other employees being bullied. Those questions were preceded by the following statement: ‘Mental violence or workplace bullying means isolation of a member of the organization, underestimation of work performance, threatening, talking behind one’s back, or other pressurizing.’ ”

Researchers used the Finnish Social Insurance Institution’s registry to track medication use in the three to five year period following the bullying survey. The study reports that in the five years after the survey’s completion 23 percent of women and 17 percent of men purchased at least one prescribed psychotropic medication.

BMJ Online states the study’s conclusion as follows:

“Our findings highlight the significance of workplace bullying to subsequent psychotropic medication reflecting medically confirmed mental problems. Tackling workplace bullying likely helps prevent mental problems among employees.”