Overdue for #MeToo - The Prevalence of Sexual Harassment in Surgery in the United States
Jacqueline J Wu1, *Aditi Kapil1, *Susan Kartiko1, *Jeffry Nahmias2, *Elan Jeremitsky3
1Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, MA;2University of California at Irvine, Orange, CA;3Forbes Regional Hospital, Monroeville, PA
Objective: To determine the prevalence of sexual harassment (SH) among surgeons in the United States (US)
Design: All chairmen in the Society of Surgical Chairs were contacted requesting participation in a sexual harassment survey. Those agreeable were sent links to the anonymous, validated survey which was then forwarded to all their residents and faculty. Univariate analysis was performed focusing on prevalence of SH, differences between residents, faculty, gender, race, hospital type, geographical region.
Setting: Twenty-five surgical departments across the United States (US)
Main Outcome Measures: 1. Prevalence of sexual harassment in the US among surgical residents and faculty. 2. Differences in prevalence of SH between genders, race, ethnicity, hospital type and region of the US
Results: Twenty-five institutions participated. A total of 2808 individuals (1425 residents, 1383 faculty) received the survey. Response rate was 17.5%. Fifty-four percent of respondents witnessed SH; 38% experienced SH. Females witnessed (70%) and experienced (65%) SH more than males (34%, 10% respectively) (p< 0.001). Residents witnessed and experienced SH significantly more than faculty. African-American respondents witnessed SH most often (54%); Asians experienced SH most often (42%). Offenders were authority figures in 56% of cases. Eighty-three percent of incidents were not reported. The Mountain region had highest prevalence of SH; New England had the lowest.
Conclusions: Sexual harassment is a widespread problem in surgery. Our data is similar to data from prior decades. Further education around recognizing, preventing and reporting SH is needed at all levels. We urge professional societies and governing bodies to take a stand and establish policies addressing SH and protecting victims.
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