The Frequency, Contributing and Preventive Factors of Harassment towards Health Professionals in Iran

Document Type: Original article


1 Department of Nursing, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, Iran;

2 Center for Nursing Care Research, Department of Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran;

3 Department of Nursing, Razi Psychiatric Hospital, Tehran, Iran;

4 Deputy of Nursing, Ministry of Health and Medical Education, Tehran, Iran;

5 Department of Statistics, School of Mathematical Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran


Background: There are high levels of sexual harassment in health care systems. Also, workplace violence occurs against ethnic and racial minorities. This study aimed to identify the frequency of and the factors contributing to and preventing sexual and racial harassment in the workplace towards health professionals in Iran.Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted on 6500 out of 57000 health workers who were selected by multistage random sampling from some teaching hospitals in Iran. Data were collected using the questionnaire of “workplace violence in the health sector” developed by the International Labor Organization, International Council of Nurses, World Health Organization, and Public Services International.Results: According to the findings, the frequencies of sexual harassment and racial harassment were, respectively, 4.7% and 12% for the 12 months prior to the study (2011). Among healthcare workers, nurses reported the highest rate of violence. The most important contributing factors in sexual and racial harassment were lack of security facilities (45.8%) and people’s ignorance of employees’ tasks (55.7%). The presence of security force, safety measures in the wards, and guards were noted as the most important preventive factor to harassment.Conclusion: Based on the results, the frequency of sexual and racial harassment is low, which can be attributed to underreporting due to cultural sensitivity or fear. So, identifying the reasons for refusal to report harassment, developing a clear mechanism for reporting and providing the necessary trainings to health workers are essential in order to deal with harassment.