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Research Letter
Physician Work Environment and Well-Being
January 2019

Prevalence of Sexual Harassment in Academic Medicine

Author Affiliations
  • 1Equal Opportunity Office, Charité–Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany
  • 2Department of Primary and Transmural Care, Radboudumc, Nijmegen, the Netherlands
  • 3Institute of Legal Medicine, Charité–Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany
JAMA Intern Med. 2019;179(1):108-111. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.4859

Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination that affects women and men in all areas of work.1 According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), sexual harassment can occur in 1 or more of 3 forms: verbal, nonverbal, or physical.1 Sexual harassment can lead to physical and psychological symptoms and diseases as well as work-related consequences.2,3 The prevalence of sexual harassment in medicine has been scantily investigated, and reports differ widely in the applied methodology.

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    1 Comment for this article
    Paul Nelson, M.D., M.S. | Family Health Care, P.C. primary physician, retired
    Once again, we learn that the health of our patients is related to their lives lived in the absence of sustained caring relationship when our educational systems portray the same level of Social Capital. For context, I offer an updated definition for both a CARING RELATIONSHIP and SOCIAL CAPITAL.

    A CARING RELATIONSHIP may be defined as
    ...social interaction between two persons,
    ...occurring with an evolving purpose, synergy and permanence,
    ...that both persons perceive as representing a beneficent intent
    ...to enhance each other's autonomy by communicating in harmony
    ...with warmth, non-critical acceptance, honesty and

    SOCIAL CAPITAL may be defined as
    ...a community's norms of Trust, Cooperation and Reciprocity that
    ...its citizens more commonly express to resolve the social dilemmas
    ...they encounter daily with the community's Civil Life
    ...WHEN Caring Relationships progressively characterize
    ...the social networks of the community's citizen,
    ...especially the Caring Relationships promoted by each citizen
    ...within the Micro-Neighborhood Network of their own Family.

    From this vantage point, we have a really long ways to go for solving the disruptive processes originating from within and outside of our healthcare institutions to resolve the cost and quality problems of our nation's healthcare. Look up the definition for an institution formulated by Professor Elinor Ostrom (see below). Her definition's last two words say it all.

    See Ostrom E. UNDERSTANDING INSTITUTIONAL DIVERSITY. Princeton University Press. 2005 - page 3