Tools for Responding to Patient-Initiated Verbal Sexual Harassment: A Workshop for Trainees and Faculty.

Affiliation

Hock LE(1), Barlow PB(2), Scruggs BA(3), Oetting TA(4), Martinez DA(5), Abràmoff MD(6), Shriver EM(7).
Author information:
(1)Resident Physician, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.
(2)Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.
(3)Vitreoretinal Surgery Fellow, Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health & Science University.
(4)Clinical Professor and Ophthalmology Residency Program Director, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.
(5)Associate Dean, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.
(6)Professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.
(7)Clinical Professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Patients are the most common source of gender-based harassment of resident physicians, yet residents receive little training on how to handle it. Few resources exist for residents wishing to address patient-initiated verbal sexual harassment themselves. METHODS: We developed, taught, and evaluated a 50-minute workshop to prepare residents and faculty to respond to patient-initiated verbal sexual harassment toward themselves and others. The workshop used an interactive lecture and role-play scenarios to teach a tool kit of communication strategies for responding to harassment. Participants completed retrospective pre-post surveys on their ability to meet the learning objectives and their preparedness to respond. RESULTS: Ninety-one participants (57 trainees, 34 faculty) completed surveys at one of five workshop sessions across multiple departments. Before the workshop, two-thirds (67%) had experienced patient-initiated sexual harassment, and only 28 out of 59 (48%) had ever addressed it. Seventy-five percent of participants had never received training on responding to patient-initiated sexual harassment. After the workshop, participants reported significant improvement in their preparedness to recognize and respond to all forms of patient-initiated verbal sexual harassment (p < .01), with the greatest improvements noted in responding to mild forms of verbal sexual harassment, such as comments on appearance or attractiveness or inappropriate jokes (p < .01). DISCUSSION: This workshop fills a void by preparing residents and faculty to respond to verbal sexual harassment from patients that is not directly observed. Role-play and rehearsal of an individualized response script significantly improved participants' preparedness to respond to harassment toward themselves and others.