Based on a feminist approach, we analyzed the experiences of workplace bullying suffered by women front-line healthcare professionals dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. We start from studies that show that women make up 70% of the global health workforce, 85% in the area of nursing, and 90% in the case of social care workers. An unequivocal need thus exists to address gender issues regarding the composition of the labor force in the health area. The pandemic has aggravated recurring problems involving healthcare professionals at the various caregiving levels, such as mental harassment (bullying) and its effects on mental health.
Data were gathered from an online survey of a convenience (non-probability) sample composed of 1,430 volunteer respondents, all women that work in the public health system in Brazil. The analyses and discussions involved the responses to a questionnaire containing 12 closed-ended questions and one open-ended question.
The results revealed a context of workplace bullying aggravated by precarious material, institutional and organizational conditions in the area of health services against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic in Brazil. This context has variously led to aggression, isolation, heavy workloads, and invasion of privacy, humiliation, persecution and fear as it was possible to see, mainly, in the answers to the study’s open-ended question. This situation degrades both work relations and the integrity of the healthcare professionals who work on the front line to treat Covid-19 cases.
We conclude that bullying is a psychosocial phenomenon that heightens the oppression and subordination still experienced by women in the contemporary context, but with new hues in a scenario of frontline response to Covid-19.
da Silva, P.R., Porto, P., Rocha, M.C. et al. Women and working in healthcare during the Covid-19 pandemic in Brazil: bullying of colleagues. Global Health 19, 10 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-023-00911-2