77% of female and 50% of male U.S. medical interns suffer from sexual harassment

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In a concerning revelation, over half of medical interns in the United States have reported experiencing sexual harassment. This information comes from a study published on December 26 in JAMA Network Open.

The study, led by Dr. Elizabeth M. Viglianti from the University of Michigan, aimed to understand if sexual harassment experiences varied across different institutions.

The team analyzed data from 2,027 interns across 28 institutions, collected during the Intern Health Study from June 2016 to June 2017.

The findings are alarming. Nearly two-thirds of the interns (64.7%) reported experiencing sexual harassment.

The breakdown by gender shows an even more stark picture: 77.2% of women and 50.9% of men reported such experiences. This indicates a significant issue within the medical training environment.

The study also found that the likelihood of experiencing sexual harassment varied significantly between institutions. They measured this difference using something called the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC), which was 0.01 in this case.

This figure may seem small, but it represented an absolute difference of 12.2% in the prevalence of sexual harassment between institutions with the lowest and highest rates.

In practical terms, this means that for two interns with similar backgrounds, the one at an institution with a higher prevalence had a 20% greater chance of facing sexual harassment.

Moreover, the problem of sexual harassment was not uniform across different medical specialties.

The study observed significant variations even when adjusting for factors like the intern’s background. This suggests that some training specialties are more prone to such issues than others.

The authors of the study believe that this data is crucial for developing interventions to combat sexual harassment in medical training environments.

They suggest that sharing best practices across institutions could be key in reducing the high frequency of these troubling incidents.

Their ultimate goal is to create a safer, more respectful environment for resident physicians, free from the threat of sexual harassment.

The research findings can be found in JAMA Network Open.

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