More than half of dermatology residents surveyed report that sexual harassment is “probably” or “definitely” a problem, most often involves a patient and rarely is reported, according to respondents from the 368 members of the Association of Professors of Dermatology Listserv of dermatology faculty and residency program coordinators.
To quantify sexual harassment incidents in dermatology, researchers created an anonymous online survey that addressed 16 behaviors adapted from the previously validated National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine/Administrator-Researcher Campus Climate Collaborative survey.

“Patients were reportedly involved in the majority of harassment incidents, which is consistent with existing literature,” Diane Whitaker-Worth, MD, associate professor, director of dermatologic medical education and residency program director in the department of dermatology at the University of Connecticut, and colleagues wrote, in a study published in Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

“We believe this may be an unappreciated problem affecting dermatology trainees,” she adds, a media release from Healio Dermatology explains.

A total of 106 residents completed the survey, with 55 of 99 (55%; 95% CI, 0.44-0.65) reporting that sexual harassment was “definitely” or “probably” a problem within dermatology residency programs.

Sixty of 105 respondents (57%; 95% CI, 0.47-0.67) reported experiencing at least one of the survey behaviors.

The odds of experiencing sexual harassment were 3.5 times greater for women than men after controlling for race and age (adjusted OR = 3.5; 95% CI, 1.4-8.8).

Ninety-nine of 154 incidents reported (64%; 95% CI, 0.57-0.72) could be categorized as sexist hostility/gender harassment such as sexist behavior or comments. In 26% of 154 incidents (n = 40; 95% CI, 0.19-0.34), residents experienced sexual hostility/crude gender harassment, defined as the use of sexually crude language to denigrate someone based on gender, according to the study. Fifteen incidents involved unwanted sexual attention (10%; 95% CI, 0.03-0.18).

Faculty or another supervising physician were reportedly involved in 23 of 154 incidents (15%; 95% CI, 0.08-0.22), and fellow residents were reportedly involved in 10 incidents (6%; 95% CI, 0-0.14), the researchers wrote, the release continues.

Patients were involved in 99 of 154 incidents (64%; 95% CI, 0.57-0.72).

Only eight of 95 events of sexist hostility/gender harassment were reported (8%; 95% CI, 0.04-0.16), although nearly half of residents (46 of 99) indicated they were negatively affected (46%; 95% CI, 0.36-0.57), according to researchers.

“Not regarding the event as ‘serious enough’ was the most common reason for not reporting, even when residents felt they were negatively affected,” Whitaker-Worth and colleagues add.

Study limitations include a small sample size, risk of response bias, inability to determine how many residents received the survey and an overrepresentation of white women.

[Source: Healio Dermatology]