Prevalence study

Measuring the prevalence and correlates of sexual harassment in medical vocational training

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Background

We do not know the extent of sexual harassment in vocational medical training and in the medical workforce in Australia. We have tended to extrapolate from small descriptive studies, and from studies in other countries, but these are insufficient to form the basis of preventive policy making.

Research questions

  1. What is the reported prevalence of sexual harassment in the Australian medical workforce?
  2. What is the reported prevalence of sexual harassment in medical education and in vocational training programs?
  3. What are the response strategies used by people who have experienced sexual harassment

Methods

Instrument

A 23 item survey combining the Sexual Experiences Questionnaire (Fitzgerald, Gelfland and Dresglow 1998) which has strong psychometric properties and has been demonstrated to be valid across different workplaces, and the Coping with Harassment inventory (Fitzgerald 1990), which incorporates different strategies of coping from denial and avoidance to reporting.  The SEQ uses a psychological-behavioural construction of sexual harassment, and is widely used in studies of this nature conducted in medical settings in other countries.  The survey elicits experiences which have occurred in the previous two years. The questionnaire also incorporates harassment on the basis of sexual orientation. We propose that this survey be distributed through Colleges, with support from state-based Departments of Health.

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