Observational Study
Copyright ©The Author(s) 2018. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Psychiatr. Mar 22, 2018; 8(1): 43-50
Published online Mar 22, 2018. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v8.i1.43
Bullying among people with visual impairment: Prevalence, associated factors and relationship to self-efficacy and life satisfaction
Audun Brunes, Morten B Nielsen, Trond Heir
Audun Brunes, Section for Trauma, Catastrophes and Migration - Adults, Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies, Oslo 0409, Norway
Morten B Nielsen, Department of Work Psychology and Physiology, National Institute of Occupational Health, Oslo 0363, Norway
Trond Heir, Department of Trauma and Migration, Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies, Oslo 0484, Norway
Trond Heir, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo 0315, Norway
Author contributions: Brunes A contributed to data analysis, interpretation, writing of article and format editing; Nielsen MB contributed to interpretation, writing and final approval of article; Heir T contributed to study conception, study design, data analysis and interpretation, writing and final approval of article.
Supported by the European Commission, Directorate - General Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, No. ECHO/SUB/2015/718665/PREP17. This research study is a part of the European Network for Psychosocial Crisis Management-Assisting Disabled in Case of Disaster (EUNAD); www.eunad-info.eu.
Institutional review board statement: The Regional Committee for Medical and Health Research Ethics gave permission to carry out the study in accordance with procedures for anonymized data (Reference number: 2016/1615A).
Informed consent statement: All participants gave their informed consent to take part in the study.
Conflict-of-interest statement: No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.
Data sharing statement: Data are from the research project European Network for Psychosocial Crisis Management - Assisting Disabled in Case of Disaster (EUNAD). Public availability may comprise privacy of the respondents. According to the informed consent given by each respondent, the data is to be stored properly and in line with the Norwegian Law of Privacy Protection. However, anonymized data is available to researchers who provide a methodological sound proposal in accordance with the informed consent of the respondents. Interested researchers can contact project leader Trond Heir (trond.heir@medisin.uio.no) with request for our study data.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Correspondence to: Audun Brunes, PhD, Research Scientist, Department of Trauma and Migration, Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies, Pb 181 Nydalen, Oslo 0409, Norway. audun.brunes@nkvts.no
Telephone: +47-97578629
Received: October 30, 2017
Peer-review started: October 31, 2017
First decision: December 8, 2017
Revised: December 19, 2017
Accepted: February 4, 2018
Article in press: February 4, 2018
Published online: March 22, 2018
Research background

Persons with impairments, such as visual impairment (VI), may be more likely to be seen as different and of lower social rank by peers, and therefore become trapped into an ongoing victimization of bullying. To our knowledge, previous studies of risk of bullying in people with VI are restricted to include convenience samples of children and adolescents.

Research motivation

In order to add to the current knowledge, we conducted a cross-sectional study in the adult population of people with VI, having the following three main aims: (1) To study the lifetime prevalence of bullying, (2) to describe demographic and VI-related factors associated with lifetime bullying, and (3) to examine the association of lifetime bullying with self-efficacy and life satisfaction.

Research methods

The study was a cross-sectional interview-based survey conducted between February and May, 2017, including an age-stratified probability sample of adults with VI. All participants were recruited through the members list of the Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted. A total of 736 (61%) adults with VI participated by completing the interview.

Research results

The lifetime and 6-mo prevalence of bullying was 41.7% and 8.2%, respectively. The rates are greater than what have been found in comparable studies of general Scandinavian populations. The majority of bullied participants (65.1%) reported that bullying was related to their vision loss. Victimization of bullying was associated with young age, early onset-age of VI, and having additional impairments. The findings illustrate that being different in terms of having visual impairment or other impairments in addition to the vision loss put individuals at increased risk of being victimized to bullying. Bullying was negatively associated with self-efficacy [adjusted relative risk (ARR): 0.40, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.19-0.85] and life satisfaction (ARR: 0.68, 95%CI: 0.51-0.91). If bullying was the underlying causal factor, our results suggest that bullying may have profound adverse effects on personality and wellbeing in adult life.

Research conclusions

To our knowledge, this is the first research study demonstrating high rates of bullying in people with VI, both in a lifetime perspective and in adult life. Individuals with young age, early onset age of VI, or other additional impairments were at greatest risk of bullying. Most of those who had been exposed perceived that bullying was related to their vision loss. Efforts should be made to increase awareness about this issue in school, social, and working life. Our findings that bulling was negatively related to outcomes of self-efficacy and life satisfaction emphasize the need of professional assistance of those who have been bullied. Universal design and access to professionals who are trained to the needs and challenges of people with VI are recommended.

Research perspectives

Our research findings should be supported by population-based cohort studies of individuals with and without VI. Moreover, future research should include longitudinal studies of the risk and impact of bullying in people with VI, especially among those who have lost their vision at birth or during childhood.