Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Sharon H. Callahan

Second Advisor

Vicki J. Farley

Third Advisor

Jennifer Paquette


This phenomenological qualitative study explored the impact and understanding of bullying in Catholic, mission-driven healthcare facilities, specifically how leaders respond to and manage bullying in their workplaces. The research is intended to make a positive contribution to Catholic healthcare communities by providing healthcare providers, educators, and policy makers information and tools to prevent and manage bullying in the workplace. The study employed Catholic social teaching and a Benedictine based theological reflection model to guide the two main areas of exploration: leaders’ experiences of hearing complaints about bullying and tools available to them to stop bullying. An anonymous survey was sent to 25 leaders in Roman Catholic, mission-driven healthcare organizations. The invited leaders represented executive leaders of mission, directors and managers, and spiritual leads/spiritual coordinators, all of whom have worked in one or more of the three Catholic healthcare systems and states (Minnesota, Nebraska, and Oregon) in which this researcher has worked. The survey, which was distributed through the Qualtrics online platform, asked the leaders four open-ended questions. Eleven participants (44%) responded to the survey.

The findings reflect themes that were culled from the researcher’s deep reflection and analysis of the participants’ responses. Three primary themes—anxiety, frustration, and worry—emerged for two of the questions: one that asked leaders to describe their experiences of hearing complaints of bullying and another that asked them to share how individuals reporting the incidents described their experiences. The other two questions explored the tools available to and used by the participants; the findings from those questions imply that Catholic healthcare leaders minimally use Catholic social teaching when assisting individuals who report bullying.

The data received in this study illuminate the prevalence of bullying within Catholic healthcare organizations; they also suggest the need for greater engagement with and promotion of Catholic social teaching by leadership.

This project presents practical solutions to address and prevent bullying in Catholic healthcare workplaces and offers recommendations for further research.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.