Horizontal Violence in New York State Practicing Registered Nurses

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Kathleen Sellers, PhD
School of Nursing, State University of New York Institute of Technology, Utica, NY
Linda Millenbach, PhD, RN
Department of Nursing, Maria College, Albany, NY
Kathleen Dibble, MS
School of Nursing, SUNYIT, Utica, NY

Learning Objective 1: Define horizontal violence.

Learning Objective 2: Describe 4 manifestations of horizontal violence.


This descriptive study examined the degree of horizontal violence (HV) amongst registered nurses (RN’s) practicing in New York State (NYS). Nurses’ knowledge of HV, the degree that they have encountered HV and been perpetrators of HV was the goal of the project with the intent of enhancing recognition of this phenomenon.


Transformational leadership theory guided this study. HV is deeply entrenched in nursing's culture. Moving towards an embedded culture based on transformational leadership that is mutually beneficial to leaders and followers requires change that eliminates HV. This requires baseline data of current prevalence.

A convenience sample of practicing NYS RN’s  completed demographic information and Briles’ Sabotage Savvy Questionnaire, a validated tool.

Preliminary results demonstrate that for this sample of 844 RN’s knowledge of, and experience with HV victimization and acting as perpetrators of HV was below the mean. Expected to do others work, being reprimanded in front of others and not being acknowledged for work were some of the most common manifestations of HV, occurring every 1-2 months for a majority of responders. Being consistently criticized occurred several/ 3-4 times per year, for many. The majority of responders stated their personal experience with being victims of HV was manifested by talking ceasing upon their arrival. Most responders did not identify themselves as perpetrators.

 While not well researched in the United States,international scientific evidence has established HV as prevalent in the nursing profession.  Consistent with  theoretical literature, results suggest that HV is so engrained in nursing’s organizational culture that it is not recognized; until a phenomenon is recognized and named little can be done to alter it. Dissemination of study findings allows for increased recognition of the phenomenon in the profession; creating opportunities to stimulate action research to evaluate organizational strategies that obliterate HV from nursing's organizational culture.