Do Nurses Still Eat Their Young?: Horizontal Violence and the Novice Nurse


Amy L. Logan

Date of Graduation

Fall 2008


Master of Science in Nursing



Committee Chair

Kathryn Hope


Horizontal violence is a group of behaviors that are carried out between coworkers of similar status, and are destructive to individuals, the workplace, and professions, as well as job satisfaction, recruitment and retention of employees. It can take many forms, including verbal or physical abuse, nonverbal actions such as rolling eyes and threatening body language, social isolation, and sexual harassment. Horizontal violence of nurses is described in the literature, but there is little published research. Furthermore, studies on novice nurses and their experiences of, and educational preparation for, horizontal violence are virtually non-existent. What are the most frequent forms of horizontal violence experienced by novice nurses? How often do novice nurses experience horizontal violence in the workplace? Are basic nursing education programs preparing new nurses for this phenomenon? Are employers addressing this issue in new nurse orientation? This descriptive study examined the experiences of 13 ASN and generic BSN graduates (1-3 years) from two public institutions in southern Missouri. Data were collected using a 30 item questionnaire on the internet. The questions consisted of Likert Scale, multiple choice, and open ended formats. The most prevalent form of horizontal violence was gossip and rumors; verbal abuse had the most enduring effect on the individual nurses. The sample reported that their nursing program did not prepare them to recognize or confront horizontal violence. Employers did little to prepare new employees for this phenomenon as well. The subjects felt that annual in-services for employees would be the best means of educating the staff on horizontal violence. Study results have implications for nurse educators, nursing administration, and for both novice and experienced nurses. A heightened level of awareness will lead to a more conscious effort among nurses to monitor their own behaviors, as well as those of their coworkers, to break the cycle of horizontal violence.


horizontal violence, lateral violence, oppression, co-worker conflict, novice nurse

Subject Categories



© Amy L. Logan