CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 · Journal of Academic Ophthalmology 2021; 13(01): e11-e18
DOI: 10.1055/s-0040-1722745
Research Article

Utilizing a Professionalism Mentor to Address Sexual Harassment in Academic Ophthalmology

Michelle T. Cabrera
1  Department of Ophthalmology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
2  Department of Ophthalmology, Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle, Washington
,
Karen L. Christopher
3  Department of Ophthalmology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado
,
Megan E. Collins
4  Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
,
Eliesa Ing
5  Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon
,
Grace Sun
6  Department of Ophthalmology, Weill-Cornell Medicine, New York City, New York
,
Jeff H. Pettey
7  Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, John A. Moran Eye Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
,
Shira S. Simon
8  Department of Ophthalmology, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
,
Jayanth Sridhar
9  Department of Ophthalmology, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Miami, Florida
,
Jeffrey R. Soohoo
3  Department of Ophthalmology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado
,
Rachel G. Simpson
7  Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, John A. Moran Eye Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
,
Leona Ding
1  Department of Ophthalmology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
,
Stacy L. Pineles
10  Department of Ophthalmology, Stein Eye Institute, UCLA, Los Angeles, California
› Author Affiliations
Funding This work was supported by unrestricted grants from Research to Prevent Blindness and the NIH CORE Grant (grant number EY001730) to the University of Washington Department of Ophthalmology and an unrestricted grant from Research to Prevent Blindness to the University of California, Los Angeles Department of Ophthalmology. The sponsors had no participation in the study design, collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; writing of the report, and the decision to submit the article for publication.

Abstract

Objective This study assesses a new departmental role—a professionalism mentor—who receives sexual harassment reporting, liaisons with campus resources, and organizes educational sessions.

Study Design Multicenter randomized controlled survey study.

Methods Academic ophthalmology departments in the United States were randomized to a professionalism mentor group (n = 9) and a control group (n = 7). Among both pre- and postsurveys, 605 faculty and trainee responses were received and 546 were complete. The intervention group was assigned a professionalism mentor with educational session for a 6- to 10-month period. Sexual harassment and reporting rate change over time were compared between the two groups.

Results Among 546 anonymous responses, 16% experienced workplace sexual harassment during the prior 10 months. Location in the South or Midwest was a risk factor (p < 0.001). Victims were mostly women (76%), including residents/fellows (46%) and academic attendings (49%); perpetrators included patients (35%) and academic attendings (35%). Departments with and without a professionalism mentor had stable harassment from pre- to postsurvey (p = 0.95 comparing change). The professionalism mentor group had an increase in reporting to an authority from pre- to postsurvey (7–23%), whereas the control group had a decrease (27–12%; p = 0.07 comparing change). Most faculty and trainees in the interventional arm of this study recommended instituting a professionalism mentor with educational session (66% presurvey and 68% postsurvey), compared with educational session alone (25% presurvey and 23% postsurvey), or neither (9% presurvey and 9% postsurvey). Residency program directors in the professionalism mentor group even more strongly supported instituting both a professionalism mentor and educational program (100% presurvey and 100% postsurvey) as opposed to educational program alone (0% presurvey and 0% postsurvey) or neither (0% presurvey and 0% postsurvey).

Conclusion This study identified a high sexual harassment rate in academic ophthalmology departments over a brief period. The presence of a professionalism mentor was viewed favorably and may lead to increased reporting.

Supplementary Material



Publication History

Received: 12 September 2020

Accepted: 18 November 2020

Publication Date:
24 March 2021 (online)

© 2021. The Author(s). This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivative-NonCommercial License, permitting copying and reproduction so long as the original work is given appropriate credit. Contents may not be used for commercial purposes, or adapted, remixed, transformed or built upon. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

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