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Managers' and Leaders' Perceptions of Sexual and Gender-Based Public Harassment in the Veterans Health Administration.

Cannedy S, Dyer KE, Oishi A, Fenwick KM, Olmos-Ochoa TT, Luger TM, Gideonse TK, Cheney AM, Canelo I, Yano EM, Hamilton AB. Managers' and Leaders' Perceptions of Sexual and Gender-Based Public Harassment in the Veterans Health Administration. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. 2022 Jul 1; 32(4):395-401.

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PURPOSE: Managers and leaders have a critical role to play in sexual and gender-based harassment prevention within organizations. Although the Veterans Health Administration has committed to eliminating harassment through national directives and training programs, it is unclear how aware local-level managers and leaders are about public harassment at their facilities and how they perceive sexual and gender-based harassment. We examined middle managers' and leaders' views about whether harassment is perceived as a problem locally, and what policies and procedures (if any) are in place to address public harassment. METHODS: We conducted 69 semistructured telephone interviews with middle managers and facility leaders before implementation of an evidence-based quality improvement project designed to improve delivery of comprehensive women's health care. Transcripts were coded using the constant comparative method and analyzed for overarching themes. RESULTS: Perceptions of the prevalence of sexual and gender-based public harassment varied among middle managers and leaders. A little more than one-half of respondents were unaware of facility-level policies and procedures to address public harassment between patients. To decrease patient-to-patient harassment, both groups generally supported the creation of separate clinical spaces for women. However, middle managers also stated that education was needed to change patient harassing behavior, which they tied to male military culture. CONCLUSIONS: Aligning divergent perspectives of what constitutes sexual and gender-based harassment and how to address it is a necessary step towards tackling harassment at the local level. Managers and leaders should continue to assess environments of care and share findings widely among employees and leadership to improve awareness and inform a unified response.

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