High Rates of Harassment Behaviors Observed in Obstetrics and Gynecology

(HealthDay News) — There are high rates of harassment behaviors within the obstetrics and gynecology (OB-GYN) specialty, according to a review published online May 8 in JAMA Network Open.

Ankita Gupta, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Louisville Health in Kentucky, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of the prevalence of sexual harassment, bullying, abuse, and discrimination among OB-GYN clinicians and trainees and reviewed interventions aimed at reducing harassment. Ten studies, with 5,852 participants, addressed prevalence, and 12 studies, involving 2,906 participants, addressed interventions.

The researchers found that OB-GYN respondents frequently reported a prevalence of sexual harassment (range, 27.6 percent of physicians to 70.9 percent of female gynecologic oncologists), workplace discrimination (67.2 percent of female versus 38.5 percent of male gynecologic oncologists), and bullying (52.8 percent of female gynecologic oncologists). OB-GYN trainees often experienced sexual harassment (69.1 percent), including gender harassment, unwanted sexual attention, and sexual coercion. About one-quarter of medical students surveyed (25.1 percent) indicated mistreatment during their OB-GYN rotation. Physicians, other trainees, and operating room staff were perpetrators of harassment (30.1, 13.1, and 7.7 percent, respectively). No significant decrease in the frequency of sexual harassment was seen with any intervention.

“Interventions to decrease harassment had not been adequately studied, but institutionwide, multipronged approaches with support from varying levels of stakeholders appeared to have the highest efficacy for reductions in mistreatment in medical training,” the authors write. “Nevertheless, most interventions were not associated with reduced sexual harassment.”

Several authors disclosed ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

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