Bullying in UK cardiology: 1-in-10 trainees affected

By Dr. Timothy Swinn

EEA- European Economic Area
OR- Odds ratio
CI- Confidence interval

A study published in Heart earlier this week shed light on the extensive nature of bullying that persists within UK Cardiology. Camm et al used data from the British Junior Cardiologists Association’s (BJCA) annual survey between 2017-2020 to assess what proportion of trainees had experienced or witnessed bullying at work. Additionally, they performed univariable analyses to investigate how gender, age, type of hospital, and location of undergraduate training affected prevalence of reported bullying.

In response to the survey question ’In the last 4 weeks, how often have you felt bullied at work?’ 152 of 1359 (11%) included participants reported experiencing bullying. This proportion was consistent over the 4 years assessed (9.1-14.2%). Female gender (OR 1.55 (95% CI 1.08-2.21)), non-UK trained doctors (EEA- OR 2.22 (1.31-3.76), non-EEA- OR 3.16(2.13-4.68)) and age of trainee (OR 1.10 per 1 year (1.06-1.15)) were associated with higher reporting of bullying. There was no significant association with type of hospital, trainee stage, or whether in a training programme.

In 2019 and 2020 the survey asked what type of staff member perpetrated the bullying. 71% of those who had been bullied reported at least 2 groups. Cardiology consultants were the most common perpetrators (82%), however consultants of other specialties (70%), non-medical staff (66.2%), and other medical staff (60.8%) were heavily implicated.

The authors pointed to data from the 2019 GMC trainee survey which showed that cardiology trainees reported a higher prevalence of bullying compared to the national average (12.3% vs. 6.9%) and conclude that action at a national level is required to address bullying; with a joint effort required by the BJCA and the British Cardiovascular Society to tackle this important issue.

Figure 1: Taken from Camm et al (2021). Map of the UK Cardiology training regions showing the proportion of Cardiology trainees reporting experiencing bullying in the workplace.

More here: https://heart.bmj.com/content/early/2021/11/24/heartjnl-2021-319882

Camm CF, Joshi A, Moore A, et al. Bullying in UK cardiology: a systemic problem requiring systemic solutions. Heart Published Online First: 06 December 2021. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2021-319882