Journal List > J Korean Acad Nurs > v.46(2) > 1003151

J Korean Acad Nurs. 2016 Apr;46(2):226-237. Korean.
Published online April 29, 2016.
© 2016 Korean Society of Nursing Science
A Grounded Theory Approach on Nurses' Experience with Workplace Bullying
Jiyeon Kang,1 and Seonyoung Yun2
1Department of Nursing, Dong-A University, Busan, Korea.
2Department of Nursing, Youngsan University, Yangsan, Korea.

Address reprint requests to: Yun, Seonyoung. Department of Nursing, Youngsan University, 288 Junam-ro (Junam-dong), Yangsan 50510, Korea. Tel: +82-55-380-9311, Fax: +82-55-380-9305, Email:
Received July 20, 2015; Revised August 06, 2015; Accepted November 27, 2015.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivs License. ( If the original work is properly cited and retained without any modification or reproduction, it can be used and re-distributed in any format and medium.



The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the workplace bullying experience of Korean nurses.


Participants were twenty current or former hospital nurses who had experienced workplace bullying. Data were collected through focus group and individual in-depth interviews from February to May, 2015. Theoretical sampling method was applied to the point of theoretical saturation. Transcribed interview contents were analyzed using Corbin and Strauss's grounded theory method.


A total of 110 concepts, 48 sub-categories, and 17 categories were identified through the open coding process. As a result of axial coding based on the paradigm model, the central phenomenon of nurses' workplace bullying experience was revealed as 'teaching that has become bullying', and the core category was extracted as 'surviving in love-hate teaching' consisting of a four-step process: confronting reality, trial and error, relationship formation, and settlement. The relationship formation was considered to be the key phase to proceed to the positive settlement phase, and the participants utilized various strategies such as having an open mind, developing human relationships, understanding each other in this phase.


The in-depth understanding of the workplace bullying experience has highlighted the importance of effective communication for cultivating desirable human relationships between nurses.

Keywords: Nurses; Workplace; Bullying; Grounded theory; Interpersonal relations


Figure 1
Coping process of workplace bullying in nursing.
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Table 1
Relationships among Categories in the Paradigm Model
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This research was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF-2014R1A1A2055496).

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST:The authors declared no conflict of interest.

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