October 27, 2020

#MedToo: A Large-Scale Examination of the Incidence and Impact of Sexual Harassment


Background: A landmark National Academies report highlighted the need for rigorous evaluation of sexual harassment in medicine. We examined the prevalence and impact of sexual harassment using the Sexual Experiences Questionnaire, the standard for measurement of sexual harassment, but which has not been previously applied within academic medicine.

Materials and Methods: A 20-minute online survey was administered to all faculty who had been working at University of Michigan Medical School for at least 1 year (n = 2723). We assessed sexual harassment within the past year from insiders (i.e., from staff, students, and faculty) and from patients and patients' families. We also evaluated mental health, job satisfaction, sense of safety at work, and turnover intentions.

Results: In the final sample (n = 705; which included 25.9% of the originally targeted population), most respondents, 82.5% of women and 65.1% of men, reported at least one incident of sexual harassment from insiders in the past year; 64.4% of women and 44.1% of men reported harassment from patients and patients' families. The most frequently experienced dimension of sexual harassment for women and men was sexist gender harassment. Increased experiences of harassment were independently associated with lower mental health, job satisfaction, and sense of safety at work, as well as increased turnover intentions, with no significant interactions by gender.

Conclusions: Sexual harassment against medical faculty is alarmingly common at an institution that is not expected to be atypical. Interventions must address sexual harassment, which affects mental health and career outcomes of male and female physicians.

Full Article: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/jwh.2019.7766