Newly graduated nurses’ experiences of horizontal violence

Ivana Maria Rosi, Adriana Contiguglia, Kim Randall Millama, Stefania Rancati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Horizontal violence, defined in the literature as ‘interpersonal conflict between two nurses at the same hierarchical levels in organizations’, often associated with bullying, affects the well-being of nurses, care recipients and the professional image of nursing and the organization due to increased turnover. One in every three newly graduated nurses is a victim of horizontal violence, although they do not always know how to define it. Aim: To investigate the direct and indirect experiences of horizontal violence in newly graduated nurses as well as to shed light on the phenomenon, on its awareness and recognition. Methods: A qualitative phenomenological study was conducted between September and October 2018 with newly graduated nurses, with a work experience ranging between 6 months and 3 years. The interviews were conducted face-to-face, consisting of a first open general question, followed by semi-structured questions. Ethical considerations: The study was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki, and the protocol was approved by the Institution Review Board. Results: From the analysis of the interviews of the 21 participants, four main themes were identified: the ‘enemies’, that is those who exercised violence, the ‘weapons’ used by them to exercise violence, the ‘effects’ and the types of ‘armor’ identified to protect themselves. Discussion: Horizontal violence is rarely recognized by newly graduated nurses, even though our sample had directly or indirectly experienced horizontal violence. Tackling the phenomenon starting from the undergraduate degree courses, focusing on effective support and more protection by the organization leaders were the silent requests that emerged from this study. Conclusion: Preventing horizontal violence is important for nurses’ professional and private well-being, for professional conduct and for the quality of care provided to patients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNursing Ethics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Bullying
  • horizontal violence
  • interpersonal conflict
  • interprofessional relations
  • newly graduated nurses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects


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