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Aust Fam Physician. 2013 Apr;42(4):186-8.

Workplace bullying--what's it got to do with general practice?

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Discipline of General Practice, University of Queensland and Research Director, Inala Indigenous Health Service, Queensland Health, Brisbane, Queensland.



Workplace bullying is repeated systematic, interpersonal abusive behaviours that negatively affect the targeted individual and the organisation in which they work. It is generally the result of actual or perceived power imbalances between perpetrator and victim, and includes behaviours that intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate a worker. It is illegal, and bullied employees can take legal action against their employers for a breach of implied duty of trust and confidence. Despite this, workplace bullying occurs in many Australian workplaces, including Australian general practices.


This article explores the issue of workplace bullying with particular reference to bullying within general practice and provides a framework for managing these situations.


All general practices need organisation-wide anti-bullying policies that are endorsed by senior management, clearly define workplace bullying, and provide a safe procedure for reporting bullying behaviours. General practitioners should investigate whether workplace issues are a potential contributor to patients who present with depression and/or anxiety and assess the mental health of patients who do disclose that they are victims of workplace bullying, Importantly, the GP should reassure their patient that bullying is unacceptable and illegal, and that everyone has the right to a safe workplace free from violence, harassment and bullying. The time has come for all workplaces to acknowledge that workplace bullying is unacceptable and intolerable.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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