Incivility, Bullying, and Workplace Violence

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ANA recognizes that incivility, bullying, and violence in the workplace are serious issues in nursing. Currently, there is no federal standard that requires workplace violence protections, but several states have enacted legislation or regulations aimed at preventing workplace violence. ANA seeks to protect nurses from all types of workplace violence through various methods including advocacy, policy, and resources. ANA asks RNs and employers to jointly create and nurture a healthy, safe, and respectful work environment.


Incivility and bullying in nursing is prevalent in all settings. Incivility is one or more rude, discourteous, or disrespectful actions that may or may not have a negative intent behind them. Bullying, which ANA defines as “repeated, unwanted harmful actions intended to humiliate, offend and cause distress in the recipient,” is a very serious issue that threatens patient safety, RN safety, and the nursing professional as a whole.

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines workplace violence as physically and/or psychologically damaging actions that occur in the workplace or while on duty. NIOSH further classifies workplace violence into four types.


In 2015, the Professional Issues Panel on Incivility, Bullying, and Workplace Violence convened to develop a new ANA position statement. ANA extends thanks to the members of the steering committee and advisory committee. The position statement is available here.

Key Points

  • The nursing profession will not tolerate violence of any kind from any source
  • RNs and employers must collaborate to create a culture of respect
  • Evidence-based strategies that prevent and mitigate incivility, bullying, and workplace violence promote RN health, safety, and wellness and optimal outcomes in health care
  • The strategies are listed and categorized by primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention
  • The statement is relevant for all health care professionals and stakeholders