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The impact of black and minority ethnic staff experiences of incivility on patient safety

Faculty of Medicine and Health

About the Project

This is an exciting opportunity to undertake a PhD within the Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (Yorkshire and Humber PSTRC), a partnership between the University of Leeds and Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust.

This prestigious award is available to an exceptional candidate who can demonstrate excellent academic ability, an enthusiasm for healthcare safety, the drive and determination to undertake a PhD and an ambition to work in a multi-disciplinary team to deliver research that makes healthcare safer.

To explore black and minority ethnic health and social care staff experiences of incivility at work and understand its impact on patient safety.

Health and social care is conducted in complex and fast-paced environments by multidisciplinary teams working across different settings and organisations. An engaged workforce operating in a positive culture is thought to be linked to safer healthcare outcomes. Incivility, characterised disrespect, rudeness and unappreciative behaviour, is one of a range of negative workplace cultures experienced by staff in these settings. There are impacts on individuals of poor workplace environments where experiences of incivility may be common, such as long-term sickness absence, psychological distress and burnout. In turn, this can yield negative organisational outcomes such as increased staff turnover and the associated costs to the healthcare system. There are also recognised implications for the quality and safety of care of unprofessional behaviour, which has been recognised by staff who perceive an association between poor behaviours and adverse events or poor clinical performance. 

The NHS relies heavily on a diverse workforce. However, black and minority ethnic NHS staff report experiencing harassment, abuse and bullying at work from colleagues at higher rates than white staff (NHS 2019). They also report experiencing these behaviours from patients and relatives. Incivility, which may not be perceived as bullying, harassment or abuse, is not explored in NHS workforce surveys and the experiences of BAME staff of incivility from colleagues and patients, and its impact on the quality and safety of care, has not been explored or understood.

This PhD project will therefore explore BAME staff experiences of incivility at work and develop an intervention to improve the working environment in the NHS for BAME staff. It is expected that the project will comprise mixed methods, exploring staff experiences qualitatively and developing a measure of incivility specifically for BAME staff. Methods may include using peer research with staff and patients. Finally, a management-level intervention will be designed aimed at improving NHS work experiences for BAME staff. 

The successful applicant will work with Professor Lawton at the University of Leeds and Dr Fylan at the Bradford Institute for Health Research. Further support will be provided by an external expert. The holder of this prestigious PhD Fellowship will also be embedded within the NIHR Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (, a research team at the forefront of patient safety research in the UK. The University of Leeds, a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities, is one of the top 10 Universities in the UK and is ranked in the top 100 universities in the QS World University Rankings 2019.

You should hold a first degree equivalent to at least a UK upper second class honours degree, or suitable postgraduate degree in psychology, social science or a health-related subject. You will be enthusiastic, organised and motivated with experience in, or knowledge of healthcare services. Importantly, you will be committed to fully engaging with staff and patients and a wider multi-disciplinary team to conduct high-quality research that is of value to the NHS.

The minimum requirements for candidates whose first language is not English are::

• British Council IELTS - score of 6.5 overall, with no element less than 6.0
• TOEFL iBT - overall score of 92 with the listening and reading element no less than 21, writing element no less than 22 and the speaking element no less than 23.

How to apply
To apply for this project applicants should complete a Faculty Scholarship Application Form using the following link. and send this alongside a 300 word research proposal based on the project brief, a full academic CV, degree certificates and transcripts (or marks so far if still studying) to the Faculty Graduate School  

We also require 2 academic references to support your application. Please ask your referees to send these references on your behalf, directly to  by no later than Monday 28 September 2020.

Funding Notes

This scholarship will attract an annual tax-free stipend of £15,285, increasing in line with Research Council UK guidelines each year, subject to satisfactory progress and will cover the UK/EU tuition fees. This scholarship is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).


Flin R. (2010).  Rudeness at work. BMJ 2010;340:c2480 

Laschinger H, Leiter M, Day A et al. (2009). Workplace empowerment, incivility, and burnout: impact on staff nurse recruitment and retention outcomes. J Nurs Manag; 17(3):302-11.

NHS (2019). NHS workforce race equality standard. 2019 data analysis report for NHS trusts. Available online:

Oyeleye A, Olubunmi D, Hanson P et al. (2013) Relationship of Workplace Incivility, Stress, and Burnout on Nurses’ Turnover Intentions and Psychological Empowerment, JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration: 43 (10)536-542.

Riskin A, Erez A, Foulk TA, et al. The impact of rudeness on medical team performance: a randomized trial.Pediatrics2015; 136: 48

West M & Dawson J. (2012). Employee engagement and NHS performance. The King’s Fund. Available online:

Westbrook J, Sunderland N, Atkinson V, et al. (2018). Endemic unprofessional behaviour in health care: the mandate for a change in approach. Med J Aust; 209 (9). doi: 10.5694/mja17.01261

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