Interventions addressing student bullying in the clinical workplace: A narrative review

Althea Gamble Blakey, Kelby Smith-Han, Lynley Anderson, Emma Collins, Elizabeth Berryman, Tim J. Wilkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Student bullying in the clinical environment continues to have a substantial impact, despite numerous attempts to rectify the situation. However, there are significant gaps in the literature about interventions to help students, particularly a lack of specific guidance around which to formulate an intervention program likely to be effective. With this narrative review about student bullying interventions in the clinical learning environment, we examine and draw together the available, but patchy, information about 'what works' to inform better practice and further research. Methods: We initially followed a PICO approach to obtain and analyse data from 38 articles from seven databases. We then used a general inductive approach to form themes about effective student bullying intervention practice, and potential unintended consequences of some of these, which we further developed into six final themes. Results: The diverse literature presents difficulties in comparison of intervention efficacy and substantive guidance is sparse and inconsistently reported. The final analytical approach we employed was challenging but useful because it enabled us to reveal the more effective elements of bullying interventions, as well as information about what to avoid: an interventionist and institution need to, together, 1. understand bullying catalysts, 2. address staff needs, 3. have, but not rely on policy or reporting process about behaviour, 4. avoid targeting specific staff groups, but aim for saturation, 5. frame the intervention to encourage good behaviour, not target poor behaviour, and 6. possess specific knowledge and specialised teaching and facilitation skills. We present the themed evidence pragmatically to help practitioners and institutions design an effective program and avoid instigating practices which have now been found to be ineffective or deleterious. Conclusions: Despite challenges with the complexity of the literature and in determining a useful approach for analysis and reporting, results are important and ideas about practice useful. These inform a way forward for further, more effective student bullying intervention and research: an active learning approach addressing staff needs, which is non-targeted and positively and skilfully administered. (331w).
Original languageEnglish
Article number220
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes

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