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Sexual Harassment By Coworkers Causes More Severe Depression

Employees who are sexually harassed by work colleagues may develop more severe symptoms of depression than those who experience harassment by clients or customers, a study has found.

Sexual Harassment By Coworkers Causes More Severe Depression

Researches show how sexual harassment at work may cause depression

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Employees sexually harassed by coworkers may develop depression
  2. Researchers noted that women were more likely to be exposed than men
  3. Sexual harassment from clients has adverse effects, should be normalised

London, Sep 25 (PTI) Employees who are sexually harassed by work colleagues may develop more severe symptoms of depression than those who experience harassment by clients or customers, a study has found. Researchers from National Research Center for Work Environment (NRCWE) in Denmark found that compared to employees not exposed to sexual harassment, those harassed by clients or customers scored 2.05 points higher on the Major Depression Inventory (MDI). MDI is a self-report mood questionnaire that generates a diagnosis of depression together with an estimate of symptom severity.

Scores on the MDI range from 20 for minor depression to 30 or more for major depression. Employees harassed by a colleague, supervisor or subordinate scored 2.45 points higher compared to employees who had experienced sexual harassment by clients or customers, according to the study published in the journal BMC Public Health.

Researchers noted that women were more likely to be exposed than men, with 169 out of 4,116 women reporting sexual harassment by clients or customers compared to 11 out of 3,487 men, and 48 women reporting sexual harassment by colleagues compared to 31 men. Participants employed in care work were more often exposed to sexual harassment by clients or customers - 152 out of 2,191 (6.9 per cent) - than participants employed in other occupational groups such as education, service or industrial work, researchers said.


"Our findings suggest that sexual harassment from clients or customers has adverse consequences and should not be normalised or ignored," said Ida Elisabeth Huitfeldt Madsen from NRCWE.

"In this study we found that sexual harassment from clients or customers, which is more prevalent than harassment from other employees, is associated with an increased level of depressive symptoms," Madsen said.

This is important as some workplaces, for example in person-related work like care work or social work, may have an attitude that dealing with sexual harassment by clients or customers is 'part of the job', researchers said.



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