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J Psychosom Res. 2006 Jan;60(1):63-72.

Bullying at work, health outcomes, and physiological stress response.

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1
National Institute of Occupational Health, DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark. aamh@ami.dk

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.

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