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The majority of physical therapists get sexually harassed

A survey of approximately 900 physical therapists revealed that 80 percent of them experience on-the-job sexual harassment. According to the study, inappropriate sexual behavior on the part of patients is a common experience for most physical therapists.

According to the physical therapists surveyed, most of them had suffered from indecent exposure, sexual remarks and sexual assault. Approximately half of them had experienced such behavior over the previous year. The survey results show that the number of physical therapists being sexually harassed is the same as it was during the 1990s.

According to the lead author of the study, "The numbers stand for themselves, and it's quite alarming." The survey author further stated that many physical therapists have been trained regarding methods for dealing with on-the-job sexual harassment, which ultimately may result in consequences for the patient and the therapist. For one, physical therapists might discharge the patient immediately from care when such behavior occurs.

Of the 80 percent of physical therapists who had experienced on-the-job sexual harassment, approximately 25 percent said that they suffered from guilt, anger, anxiety, fear and/or depression as a result of the incidents. According to one expert on the topic, physical therapists are in a unique position because they have a duty to care for their patients. However, health care practitioners also need to take care of their own needs when this kind of behavior occurs.

Have you been sexually harassed at your health care related job by a patient? Your employer has a legal responsibility to protect you from being sexually harassed at work. If you're encountering sexual harassment on the job -- no matter what kind of employment you have -- speak up about the harassment and demand that it stop immediately.

Source: Reuters, "Most physical therapists face sexual harassment from patients," Carolyn Crist, Aug. 31, 2017

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