New doctors face widespread sexual harassment in residency

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Sexual harassment in academic medicine is widespread, a new study finds.

Female residents in surgery and internal medicine reported the highest rates and those in pediatrics reporting the lowest, according to the research.

The results come from a survey of roughly 1,700 residents at 14 academic medical centers across the country. About half the respondents were women.

Nearly 12% of women doing their residency in general surgery reported being harassed by colleagues or superiors in their previous two years of training. In internal medicine, it was 7% and in pediatrics, 2%.

The study also shows that residents who identified as LGBTQ reported the highest levels of sexual harassment.

Women who reported that they had been sexually harassed by other doctors said they were less energized by work and had higher levels of ethical or moral distress.

“It is chilling to realize the widespread extent of this unprofessional behavior among physicians in medical training programs,” first author Linda Pololi, a physician and research scientist at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, and coauthors write in the paper.

“In our institutions of healing, learning, and discovery, gender bias and harassment must be eliminated,” she says.

The research appears in the American Journal of Medicine.

Additional coauthors came from Brandeis University, Boston College, the CIR Policy and Education Initiative in New York, the Yale School of Medicine, and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.

Source: Brandeis University