[Sexual harassment of medical students during their period of work placement]
SourceNederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde, 149, 14, (2005), pp. 764-8
Article / Letter to editor
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Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde
SubjectEBP 3: Effective Primary Care and Public Health; IGMD 5: Health aging / healthy living; NCEBP 7: Effective primary care and public health
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the incidence, type and consequences of sexual harassment of medical students at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, during their period of work placement, as well as the students' need for care thereafter. DESIGN: Questionnaire. METHOD: During the period from 1 July to 31 December 2003, 5th and 6th year medical students were asked about their experiences with sexual harassment by means of a questionnaire. Sexual harassment was defined as unwelcome, sexually-coloured attention. RESULTS: Of the 183 questionnaires distributed, 113 (62%) were returned. 15 (20%) of the 75 female students and none of the 38 male students had experienced sexual harassment. The offenders included 9 patients and 6 doctors (54 men and 1 woman). In 7 of the 15 cases the harassment consisted of combinations of unwanted behaviour and unwanted sexually-coloured remarks. 9 of the 15 students had discussed their experiences with their peers, 7 with a supervisor and 3 with nobody. The most important reason to discuss it first in their peer group was that, despite the fact that the students were convinced that the offender's behaviour was unacceptable, they still doubted their own judgement. 5 students felt inhibited in their contacts with patients after the incident. 8 of the 15 offenders were not confronted with their behaviour. 6 of the 15 students were not satisfied with the way their case was handled. CONCLUSION: The problem of sexual harassment of medical students during their period of work placement should not be underestimated. It has a negative impact on the personal and professional conduct of future doctors. This subject should be part of the training of both medical students and their supervisors.
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