In this series of article reviews, we will dissect the latest research papers important to mental health education and advocacy.

September 18, 2023 – 8 min read

Consequences of workplace bullying with respect to the well-being of its targets and the observers of bullying by M A Vartia.

Introduction to Article

This is a study conducted by Maarit Vartia in 2001 to study workplace bullying has a role on feelings of stress and mental well-being for victims and observers of workplace bullying. Martia also wanted to determine whether different kinds of bullying affect the observer’s and victim’s mental well-being differently.


The author contacted every 35th member of the Federation of Municipal Officials (a trade union) with the survey. In the end, the author received 949 respondents from various municipal jobs. Most (85%) were women, and the average age was around 40. The respondents were asked if they were victims/observers of workplace bullying. The Leymann Inventory of Psychological Terrorization determined the forms of bullying, and stress was measured with the Occupation Stress Questionnaire.


The author found that the stress level for victims of bullying was significantly higher than that of bystanders and individuals unaffected by bullying. Additionally, the author found that observers of bullying had higher stress levels than those un-impacted by workplace bullying. Assaulting one’s private life and misjudging one’s work were the forms of bullying most strongly associated with stress reactions.


The major limitation of this study is that all variables were self-reported. While this is a necessary limitation of most mental health studies, it still is necessary to remember that none of the responses by participants can be independently verified. Additionally, most of the questions were subjective, and it is possible that some responses were not accurate to reality.

ARE U Takeaways

  • This study confirms an earlier one, which indicates that bullying is a complex phenomenon that affects victims and observers alike.
  • It is important to note that not all bullying is equal: certain actions hurt more than others. People should keep an eye out to ensure that managers are not engaging in actions that can harm their employees’ self-esteem and mental health.


Vartia, M. A.-L. (2001). Consequences of workplace bullying with respect to the well-being of its targets and the observers of bullying. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, 27(1), 63–69.