What is Bullying?


ullying is aggressive behavior that most commonly takes place between school-aged children. It may be physical or psychological, but all bullying is unwanted. It always includes perceived power imbalances: Students bullied are often made to feel unpopular or “outcast.”

Bullying can persist into adulthood, especially in the workplace. It is most prevalent in environments with strict hierarchy of authority. Contributions and viewpoints of the victims are minimized to exercise control over them.

Clinical Trials on the Effects of Bullying

Adult bullying can contribute to a toxic work environment and may feed into criminal behaviors like assault. Becoming the victim of a bully can damage a person’s career, especially if the bully is a supervisor.

“Cyberbullying” refers to a similar pattern of intimidating behavior brought online. It happens most frequently among young people on social media platforms and mobile apps. However, organized online harassment and “trolling” can be considered forms of bullying.

What Conditions is Bullying Associated With?

Bullying can have serious psychological consequences. This is true whether or not individual episodes are intense or violent. It can also affect any person. Some groups, like LGBT and racial minorities, are more frequently targeted at any age.

Bullied children are more likely to suffer chronic mood disorders like anxiety and depression. Severe bullying can result in conditions including PTSD or development of fears and phobias, like social anxiety or agoraphobia.

Stress, loss of confidence, and sleep disturbances are common results for bullied adults. Since cyberbullying can leave a person of any age afraid of its future consequences, it also has a major negative effect on quality of life.

What Research Currently Exists Around Bullying?

Clinical research on bullying focuses on reducing its impact. Bullying research can be thought of as part of research on trauma. For example, prolonged trauma can result in brain changes that make it harder to regulate emotions or organize long-term effort.

Therapies for bullying victims range from medications to counseling.

In clinical studies on bullying, new medications are being pioneered. These may help victims adapt to stressful situations and enhance the effect of counseling. Counseling is aimed at giving victims a greater sense of personal agency and emotional resilience.

In some cases, as when a workplace has been heavily compromised by bullying, it may be necessary for an adult victim to leave that environment as part of safeguarding mental health. Online habits can also be adjusted to improve well-being.

Why Are Further Bullying Clinical Trials Important?

As bullying has become more widespread, the idea it is a “normal part of childhood” is being challenged by medical research. Rather than telling victims they must ignore it or “toughen up,” it is crucial to manage the measurable health effects of bullying.

At the same time, clinical practitioners are recognizing the prevalence and seriousness of adult bullying. This is a relatively new research area with many questions to answer. New studies must be conducted that focus on the problems of adult bullying.

Current Bullying Clinical Trials

This is a selection of the current bullying clinical trials offered by ClinicalTrials.gov. To share a bullying clinical trial for inclusion on our site, contact our team.

  • Evaluating the Back 2 School Program in a Norwegian Setting: A Multicenter Pilot Study
    on December 12, 2022 at 5:00 pm

    Conditions:   Absence;   School Phobia;   Truancy; Socialized;   Depression, AnxietyIntervention:   Behavioral: The Back 2 School program for problematic school absenteeismSponsors:   University of Tromso;   UiT The Arctic University of Norway;   NORCE Norwegian Research Centre AS;   Regionsenter for barn og unges psykiske helse;   University of Bergen;   University of Stavanger;   Norwegian University of Science and TechnologyRecruiting

  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Adolescents and Young Adults
    on October 12, 2022 at 4:00 pm

    Conditions:   Major Depression;   Bulimia Nervosa;   Anorexia Nervosa/BulimiaIntervention:   Behavioral: Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Adolescents (IPT-A)Sponsors:   Linnaeus University;   Linkoeping University;   Göteborg UniversityRecruiting

  • Efficacy of a Multi-level School Intervention for LGBTQ Youth
    on September 15, 2022 at 4:00 pm

    Conditions:   Depression;   Anxiety;   Post Traumatic Stress Disorder;   Coping Behavior;   Sexual Minority Stress;   Suicidality;   Substance Use;   Bullying;   HarassmentIntervention:   Behavioral: Proud & EmpoweredSponsors:   Washington University School of Medicine;   National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD);   University of Southern CaliforniaRecruiting

  • EC Brain Program for Children With Special Education Needs
    on June 23, 2022 at 4:00 pm

    Condition:   Neurodevelopmental DisordersInterventions:   Other: EC Brain After-school Program;   Other: conventional interventionSponsor:   Chinese University of Hong KongRecruiting

  • Culturally Smart Relationships Study
    on May 26, 2022 at 4:00 pm

    Condition:   RacismIntervention:   Behavioral: Culturally Smart RelationshipsSponsors:   University of Illinois at Chicago;   William T. Grant Foundation;   Big Brothers Big Sisters of America;   Herrera Consulting Group, LLCRecruiting

  • Coaching Late Elementary School Teachers in Bullying Detection and Intervention (Bullying Classroom Check-Up)
    on April 11, 2022 at 4:00 pm

    Conditions:   Intervention;   ControlIntervention:   Behavioral: BCCUSponsors:   Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health;   Children's Hospital of Philadelphia;   University of Virginia;   Sheppard Pratt Health SystemRecruiting

  • A Naturalistic Trial of the Norwegian Sickness Absence Clinic. The NSAC Efficacy Study
    on April 5, 2022 at 4:00 pm

    Conditions:   Musculoskeletal Disorder;   Anxiety Disorders;   Depression;   Fatigue;   Pain;   Occupational Exposure;   Work Related Stress;   Workplace Bullying;   Employment;   Sickness Absence;   Return to WorkInterventions:   Other: NSAC - rapid;   Other: NSAC - ordinary;   Other: NSAC - active controlSponsors:   Nordlandssykehuset HF;   University Hospital of North Norway;   Helsepartner Rehabilitering AS (Alta, Norway);   Helgelandssykehuset HF;   Finnmarkssykehuset HF (Kirkenes, Norway);   UiT The Arctic University of NorwayRecruiting

  • EMPOWERYOU: Examining an Internet-based Prevention Program for Primary Caregivers
    on February 11, 2022 at 5:00 pm

    Condition:   VictimisationInterventions:   Behavioral: Basic modules;   Behavioral: Basic modules and experimental condition "My coach";   Behavioral: Basic modules and experimental module "Who am I and where do I belong?";   Behavioral: Basic modules and experimental modules "Who am I and where do I belong?" and "My coach";   Behavioral: Basic modules and experimental module "You are safe here";   Behavioral: Basic modules and experimental modules "You are safe here" and "My coach";   Behavioral: Basic modules and experimental modules "You are safe here" and "Who am I and where do I belong?";   Behavioral: Basic modules and experimental modules "You are safe here", "Who am I and where do I belong?", and "My coach";   Behavioral: Basic modules and experimental module "Watch out!";   Behavioral: Basic modules and experimental modules "Watch out!" and "My coach";   Behavioral: Basic modules and experimental modules "Watch out!" and "Who am I and where do I belong?";   Behavioral: Basic modules and experimental modules "Watch out!", "Who am I and where do I belong?", and "My coach";   Behavioral: Basic modules and experimental modules "Watch out!" and "You are safe here";   Behavioral: Basic modules and experimental modules "Watch out!", "You are safe here", and "My coach";   Behavioral: Basic modules and experimental modules "Watch out!", "You are safe here", and "Who am I and where do I belong?";   Behavioral: Basic modules and experimental modules "Watch out!", "You are safe here", "Who am I and where do I belong?", and "My coach"Sponsors:   University of Bremen;   RWTH Aachen University;   Bielefeld University;   Medical School Berlin;   Karlsruhe Institute of TechnologyRecruiting

  • Psycho-social Impact of Amelogenesis and Dentinogenesis Imperfecta
    on June 16, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    Conditions:   Dentinogenesis Imperfecta;   Amelogenesis ImperfectaIntervention:   Other: QuestionnairesSponsor:   University Hospital, ToulouseRecruiting

  • A Trial of Neurofeedback as an Adjunctive Treatment for Youth in Outpatient Mental Health Settings
    on May 4, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    Condition:   TraumaInterventions:   Behavioral: Neurofeedback Intervention;   Behavioral: standard of careSponsor:   University of RochesterRecruiting

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Weight-related Bullying (Online Treatment)
    on October 14, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Conditions:   Bullying;   Weight, Body;   Trauma, PsychologicalIntervention:   Behavioral: CBT for Weight BullyingSponsor:   Yale UniversityRecruiting

  • Dating Violence Prevention Program Focusing on Middle School Boys
    on March 18, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    Condition:   Adolescent Dating ViolenceInterventions:   Behavioral: Project STRONG;   Behavioral: Health PromotionSponsor:   Rhode Island HospitalRecruiting


In a recent study, about 49% of students in grades 4-12 reported being bullied. Perhaps surprisingly, 31% of adults surveyed said they had been bullied. 43% said the behavior had become more accepted over the last year.

This has serious health implications. More clinical resources for bullying are essential to mental health as people of all ages face greater pressures and a digital environment that extends bullying into the home.