Basic assumptions and symptoms of posttraumatic stress among victims of bullying at work

Eva Gemzøe Mikkelsen, Ståle Einarsen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Results from several empirical studies suggest that many victims of bullying suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, few researchers have attempted to explain why exposure to bullying may result in severe trauma. Furthermore, no studies have related these symptoms to the victims' exposure to other distressing life events. The aims of this study were therefore to assess the prevalence and intensity of PTSD analogue symptomatology among a group of 118 victims of bullying at work. Second, we investigated whether victims of bullying who report being more affected by other distressing life events than by bullying were more likely to suffer PTSD analogue symptomatology. In accordance with Janoff-Bulman's cognitive theory of PTSD, a third aim was to investigate whether victims of bullying and non-bullied controls differ in their basic assumptions of themselves, others, and the world. Based on self-report measures, 76% of the victims portrayed symptoms indicating post-traumatic stress disorder. However, although 29% were found to meet all DSM-IV-TR criteria for PTSD, another 47% only failed to fulfil the A1 criterion, i.e., they did not report serious injuries or threats to their physical integrity while being bullied. Measurements of symptom severity scores indicated that 61.7% portrayed a moderate to severe or severe level of impairment, whereas 73.6% displayed a moderate or severe impairment in functioning. Compared with victims who failed to meet all or several diagnostic criteria for PTSD, a significantly higher percentage of the victims meeting all criteria reported feeling more negatively affected by an event other than bullying, indicating that exposure to other traumatic life events may increase victims' vulnerability. Finally, significant group differences on six out of eight basic assumptions were demonstrated between victims of bullying and non-bullied controls, indicating that exposure to bullying at work may result in increased negative views on self, others, and the world.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
Volume11
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)87-111
ISSN1359-432X
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Cite this

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title = "Basic assumptions and symptoms of posttraumatic stress among victims of bullying at work",
abstract = "Results from several empirical studies suggest that many victims of bullying suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, few researchers have attempted to explain why exposure to bullying may result in severe trauma. Furthermore, no studies have related these symptoms to the victims' exposure to other distressing life events. The aims of this study were therefore to assess the prevalence and intensity of PTSD analogue symptomatology among a group of 118 victims of bullying at work. Second, we investigated whether victims of bullying who report being more affected by other distressing life events than by bullying were more likely to suffer PTSD analogue symptomatology. In accordance with Janoff-Bulman's cognitive theory of PTSD, a third aim was to investigate whether victims of bullying and non-bullied controls differ in their basic assumptions of themselves, others, and the world. Based on self-report measures, 76{\%} of the victims portrayed symptoms indicating post-traumatic stress disorder. However, although 29{\%} were found to meet all DSM-IV-TR criteria for PTSD, another 47{\%} only failed to fulfil the A1 criterion, i.e., they did not report serious injuries or threats to their physical integrity while being bullied. Measurements of symptom severity scores indicated that 61.7{\%} portrayed a moderate to severe or severe level of impairment, whereas 73.6{\%} displayed a moderate or severe impairment in functioning. Compared with victims who failed to meet all or several diagnostic criteria for PTSD, a significantly higher percentage of the victims meeting all criteria reported feeling more negatively affected by an event other than bullying, indicating that exposure to other traumatic life events may increase victims' vulnerability. Finally, significant group differences on six out of eight basic assumptions were demonstrated between victims of bullying and non-bullied controls, indicating that exposure to bullying at work may result in increased negative views on self, others, and the world.",
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Basic assumptions and symptoms of posttraumatic stress among victims of bullying at work. / Mikkelsen, Eva Gemzøe; Einarsen, Ståle.

In: European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, Vol. 11, No. 1, 2002, p. 87-111.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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