Sexual harassment: a touchy subject for nurses

Julie Cogin, Alan Fish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
823 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose ' The purpose of this paper is to examine prevalence of sexual harassment (SH) in nursing and the environmental factors that contribute to incidents of SH. Design/methodology/approach ' A mixed-method research methodology is adopted. A total of 538 questionnaires are collected from nurses working in eight different hospitals across metropolitan and rural areas in Australia. A total of 23 in-depth semi-structured interviews are conducted. Findings ' Prevalence of SH in nursing is high with 60 percent of female nurses and 34 percent of male nurses reporting a SH incident in the two-year period prior to this paper. The questionnaire data suggest that patients are the most likely perpetrator, however, the interviews name physicians as typical perpetrators. A model is tested via structural equation modelling and revealed that leadership behaviors, an unbalanced job gender ratio and no prior socialization are positively associated with SH. Research limitations/implications ' This paper closes gaps in theory by introducing a new framework explaining the contextual factors that heighten a nurses' probability of being harassed. Some variables such as organizational culture and specific nursing units have not been explored and can be considered a limitation of the paper. Practical implications ' The results of this paper assist health professionals to adopt proactive practices for managing SH and plan a workforce where SH is minimized. Originality/value ' This paper illustrates the prevalence of different types of SH and the causes for male and female nurses that have not been investigated previously. The results help health managers make informed decisions in regard to intervention strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-462
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Health, Organisation and Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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