Bullying behavior and employee well-being: how do different forms of social support buffer against depression, anxiety and exhaustion?

Birgit Pauksztat*, Denise Salin, Momoko Kitada

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Workplace bullying has severe negative consequences for the well-being of targeted employees. Previous research suggests that social support may buffer against such adverse effects. However, it remains unclear if different forms of support have equally strong effects and if support buffers equally effectively against different outcomes. Further, little is known about social support as a mitigating factor in remote occupational groups such as seafarers. This study examines the buffering effects of four forms of support (instrumental and emotional peer support, company support, non-work support) on three aspects of employee well-being (depression, anxiety, and exhaustion) among seafarers.
Responses to a cross-sectional online survey from a convenience sample of 414 seafarers on international commercial vessels were analyzed using moderated regression analyses with PROCESS.
Exposure to workplace bullying behavior increased seafarers’ depression, anxiety and exhaustion. Instrumental peer support and non-work support buffered the negative impact of bullying on depression. The impact of bullying on exhaustion was buffered by company support. The impact of bullying on anxiety was not buffered by any of the four forms of support.
Extending previous research, the findings suggest that the interaction between workplace bullying and support depends not only on the source of support, but also on the type of support and the outcome considered. While support from colleagues on board was important for seafarers, company and non-work support must not be overlooked. Interventions should, therefore, encourage the development of peer support and ensure access to shore-based support for workers in remote locations.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Publication statusPublished - 11.03.2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • workplace bullying
  • social support
  • mental health
  • exhaustion
  • maritime industry
  • 314,2 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health

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