Date of Award

1-1-1999

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Nursing

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Kathy Ahern

Abstract

This research examined the effects of whistleblowing and non-whistleblowing on nurses in Western Australia. A descriptive survey design was used to explore the physical, emotional and professional effects experienced by nurses who blew the whistle and nurses who did not blow the whistle on misconduct. This study also examined the effective and ineffective coping behaviours reported by participants. A questionnaire was developed based on Lazarus and Folkman's Stress/Coping model and mailed to 500 nurses in Western Australia. Of these, 100 returned the completed questionnaire, indicating a response rate of 20%. Ninety-five respondents wereincluded in the study; 70 were self-identified as whistle blowers and 25 were self-identified as non-whistle blowers. Results indicated that nurses experienced stress induced physical and emotional problems from being involved in a whistleblowing situation. Data also suggested that severe professional reprisals occurred if the nurse reported misconduct, but there were few professional consequences if the nurse remained silent. A majority of whistleblowers tried problem-focused coping behaviours and reported four of them to be effective. A majority of non-whistleblowers tried emotion-focused coping behaviours and reported all of them to be ineffective. The conclusions reached from this research are: (I) Whistleblowing situations are stressful and may cause physical and emotional problems whether one blows the whistle or not. (2) Blowing the whistle on misconduct can be professionally damaging, whereas remaining silent will probably not affect one's career. (3) Blowing the whistle on misconduct will probably not change, or stop, the misconduct. (4) Remaining silent may result in more feelings of unworthiness and guilt than speaking up. (5) Problem-focused behaviours are the most effective coping behaviours in whistleblowing situations.

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