Most female nurses, doctors sexually harassed, study finds

Some two-thirds of medical workers experience inappropriate behavior from patients, with the younger ones targeted more often

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Illustrative: Nurses at the emergency room in the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative: Nurses at the emergency room in the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Most of Israel’s female medical personnel have been sexually harassed at one point or other during their career, a study showed.

The research, to be formally released at a conference Tuesday, found that 69 percent of female doctors have been victims of such behavior, as were 62% of female nurses, according to a report in the Maariv newspaper. The bulk of the unwanted attention came from patients, the survey said.

Over three months, more than 430 female doctors, nurses and other medical workers from three hospitals took part in the study. Their average age was just over 44 and they had an average of 16 years experience in their field.

Dr. Ilya Kagan of Tel Aviv University said the research team asked the medical crew to tell them how often they were exposed to various types of sexual behavior and comments directed at them. Among the options presented to the women were “stories with sexual hints, insulting jokes, vulgar sexual comments, unwanted and discomforting sexual attention and even threats of rape.”

“We found that caregivers were very much exposed to sexual hints and indications…. and even attempts to establish a romantic connection,” Kagan told Maariv. In fact, 17% of the doctors — almost one out of five — received an unwanted kiss.

Participants were also asked how frequently they felt harassed. While they were given the option to report harassment on a daily basis, Kagan noted that most of them reported such incidents happened either once a month or once a year. Age was a factor, as the younger nurses and doctors reported harassment at a more frequent pace.

Kagan told NRG the research showed that “almost every doctor will go through this during her career.” As a result, he added, “female nurses and doctors are at risk and it needs to be taken care of.”

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