Bully bosses bad for your health

June 24, 2003

Bully bosses could be sending the blood pressure of staff members soaring,

increasing their risk of heart attack or stroke, according to new British

research.The release of the UK study coincides with new local research carried out by

Health Works that shows workplace bullying in Australia is resulting in sick days, severe stress and even panic attacks. Go to the end of this story for a link to a guide to standing up to the bully boss.

The UK research was carried out by doctors from the Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College and involved a group of 28 female nursing assistants.

The test group, who all worked in British hospitals, volunteered to have their blood pressure monitored every 30 minutes to see what happened when they were in the presence of a supervisor they deemed “unfair or unreasonable”.

Thirteen nurses worked with two supervisors – one they liked, the other they disliked.

The other 15 nurses formed a comparison group where they worked with either a supervisor or supervisors they liked or disliked – not a mixture of the two. The comparision group registered only a tiny difference of three millimetres of mercury (Hg) in their systolic pressure, and no difference in diastolic pressure when working with a boss.

In contrast, the other group showed huge differences. While working with “Ms Nasty” nurses experienced a 15mm Hg difference in their systolic blood pressure and a 7mm Hg difference in diastolic pressure from normal. Previous research shows that a rise of 10mm Hg in systolic and 5mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure can lead to a 16 per cent increased risk of coronary heart disease and a 38 per cent increased risk of stroke.

In contrast, when the same group worked with “Ms Nice” their blood pressure dropped slightly.

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