A third of doctors experience rude, dismissive, or aggressive communication from colleagues

Authors: Abi Rimmer 

Publication date:  04 Jan 2016

Over 30% of doctors often experience rude, dismissive, or aggressive communication from colleagues, researchers have found.

A survey of 606 doctors working in three teaching hospitals found that 31% of respondents had been subjected to rude, dismissive, or aggressive communication several times in a week.[1] The researchers found that junior and registrar doctors were affected twice as often as consultants. “Rudeness was more commonly experienced from specific specialties: radiology, general surgery, neurosurgery, and cardiology,” the researchers said.

The study, published in Clinical Medicine, also found that 40% of respondents believed that rude, dismissive, or aggressive communication “moderately or severely” affected their working day.

Victoria Bradley, one of the study’s coauthors, told BMJ Careers, “Rude, dismissive, and aggressive communication between doctors is an under-researched and poorly recognised phenomenon that impacts negatively on the abilities and experiences of colleagues across the country.

“We wanted to raise awareness of this problem in the hope that more doctors will publicly commit to changing this ingrained and dangerous culture.”

The researchers found that nearly half (49%) of the respondents thought that rude, dismissive, or aggressive communication arose when they interacted with colleagues in other departments or specialties. “Certain specialties were repeatedly and consistently named as more likely to engage in this behaviour and these were: radiology, general surgery, neurosurgery and cardiology,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Bradley V, Liddle S, Shaw R, et al. Sticks and stones: investigating rude, dismissive and aggressive communication between doctors. Clin Med  1 Dec 2015, doi: [Link] . [Link] .

Abi Rimmer BMJ Careers


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