Whistle-blowing nurses face long-term negative effects

Share this content:
Whistle-blowing nurses face long-term negative effects
Whistle-blowing nurses face long-term negative effects
Nurses who are involved in whistle-blowing cases — reporting wrongdoing perpetrated by their colleagues — can suffer far-reaching emotional consequences, Australian researchers say.

“We already knew from previous research that whistle-blowing had a negative impact on all aspects of an individual's life, but this study highlights how intense and long-lasting the emotional problems can be,” lead author and nurse researcher Kath Peters, RN, Ph.D., said.

Peters and her fellow investigators have extensive experience in interviewing whistle-blowers across many industries. They say nurse whistle-blowers report experiencing symptoms such as acute anxiety, paranoia on the job, nightmares, alcohol dependency, flashbacks and intrusive thoughts well past the precipitating event. Some nurses reported avoiding social events, as well as insomnia and lack of confidence.

In the study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, the authors write that although whistle-blowing nurses are usually unprepared for the consequences of their actions following the reporting of an incident, they can take comfort in knowing their actions have led to improvements in healthcare safety and quality.

“Whistleblowers can face hostile workplaces, victimization, ostracism, exclusionary behavior, hostility and bullying,” Peters said.