Experiences With
Workplace Bullying Among Athletic Trainers in the Collegiate Setting

Weuve C., Pitney WA., Martin M., Mazerolle SM. J
Athl Train; 2014;49(5):696-705

Take Home
Message: Among athletic trainers working in a college setting 14% reported that
they were bullied, and 20% reported that they witnessed bullying. There were no
differences between who experienced bullying, but most of the bullying
perpetrators were males with the majority being coaches.

bullying has been linked to decreased productivity, increased absences, and
causing people to leave their job. Workplace bullying has been studied among other
healthcare professions; however, there is no information pertaining to work
place bullying in the athletic training field. Therefore, the authors examined
the prevalence of workplace bullying in the collegiate setting, where they
investigated who experiences more bullying, whether the workplace position is
associated with bullying, and sought to identify the personnel involved in the
acts of bullying. Seven hundred and twenty-three athletic trainers from around
the United States working in a collegiate setting completed the survey (24.1%
response rate, 46% women, average age of 38 years, average 14 years of athletic
training experience). The survey consisted of 3 components: demographic data
(e.g., degree hold, title of position) the Negative Acts Questionnaire-Revised (NAQ-R), and a series of
yes/no questions expanding on the NAQ-R survey, which was developed by the
authors (e.g., have you ever witnessed workplace bullying). Fourteen percent of
the respondents reported that they experienced bullying in the athletic
training setting. These respondents identified the most common perpetrators:
39% were coaches, 18% were supervising athletic trainers, and 18% were
categorized as other (administrators, general athletic employees, faculty
co-workers, and academic supervisors). One hundred and forty-two athletic
trainers (20%) reported that they witnessed bullying situations. Similarly, most
of the perpetrators were coaches (39%) or administrators (33%). There was no
difference in the number of males (56%) and females (44%) who experienced
bullying; however, more bullying perpetrators were males (74%). Additionally
there was no difference in experiencing bullying based on level of education or
position held.

trainers need to interact with many individuals in addition to athletes such as
physicians, coaches, and administrators. If the communication is tainted with
an act of workplace bullying this will interfere with the athletic trainer’s
job and care for the athlete. This study indicated that 14% of athletic
trainers working in a college setting experience bullying and 20% have
witnessed bullying. There were no differences in experiencing bullying based on
sex, position, or level of education, which suggests that bullying does not
discriminate. In comparison to other healthcare fields (e.g., 33-83% of nurses
experience bullying), athletic training is fairly low, which may be attributed
to the teamwork and camaraderie that is a common feature within this
profession. The authors conclude that in the athletic training field there is
an overall mutual respect; however, the interaction is not always friendly.
Medical professionals should be cognizant of bullying and foster an environment
that encourages open communication and collaboration. The authors suggested
that all athletic trainers should examine their own behaviors and the behaviors
around them. If a problem is detected then this should be reported. Preventing
bullying can have great benefits for the clinicians’ quality of life and for
the quality of care they can provide.

Questions for
Discussion: Have you experienced workplace bullying? How do you handle
potentially unpleasant bullying situations?

by: Jane McDevitt, PhD
by: Jeff Driban



Perceptions With Workplace Bullying Among Athletic Trainers in the Collegiate Setting

Weuve, C., Pitney, W., Martin, M., & Mazerolle, S. (2014). Experiences With Workplace Bullying Among Athletic Trainers in the Collegiate Setting Journal of Athletic Training, 49 (5), 696-705 DOI: 10.4085/1062-6050-49.3.16