A new questionnaire enables health professional students to disclose inappropriate behaviours they may be subjected to in the workplace.

Health professional students spend time in a clinical workplace environment as part of their course requirements. Sadly the literature suggests that these students can be subjected to bullying and harassment during their clinical placements in healthcare settings. As well as being detrimental to the students' wellbeing and learning, this can have negative implications for the workplace also. To address this the University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic have been working on a joint project, Creating a Positive Learning Environment (CAPLE), which sought to support all clinical staff to develop and evaluate ways to improve teaching and learning within their specific clinical environments. Principal Lecturer in Nursing Emma Collins was a member of the CAPLE team. 

The team realised that they needed a reliable way to ascertain the extent and nature of harassment that was occurring, in order to understand the issue and to evaluate whether their workshops were being effective. Their starting point was an existing survey known as NAQ-R, which measured work-related bullying, person-related bullying and physical intimidation. They modified this in two ways:

  • adapting it for students learning in the workplace rather than for employees, and
  • adding two additional dimensions of bullying, sexual harassment and ethnic harassment.

The new questionnaire, the Clinical Workplace Learning NAQ-R, was trialled with medical and nursing students. It takes about 5 minutes for a student to complete. Various analyses showed that the empirical evidence supported validation of the new questionnaire as a reliable tool. This more comprehensive tool will help health profession educators to identify and address harassment of students during learning in the clinical workplace. 

January 2021