Workplace harassment in healthcare – Dunya Blog


Harassment is one of the undesirable behaviors based on color, sex, religion, race, disability and is considered to be practiced in many workplaces. According to (Shetty and Nithyashree, 2017) “Workplace harassment is threatening behavior directed against an individual worker or a group of workers”. Likewise, it is common in healthcare facilities. According to AKUH policy, “harassment in the workplace in the context of health is defined as any unwanted conduct which has the effect of undermining the dignity of the employee or creating an offensive environment for the employee” . Healthcare professionals, mainly nurses, have been identified as a vulnerable group to workplace harassment and we will discuss some of its aspects here.

Workplace harassment of nurses is a common problem around the world, while the true prevalence remains unknown. WHO, ICN and other international organizations are working to assess the prevalence, extent, causes and characteristics of workplace harassment against nurses. The prevalence of WPH among nurses varies from country to country for many reasons. Such as the geopolitical situation of the country, the health care delivery systems in health care facilities and the training opportunities for nurses to deal with such unpleasant conduct. According to international studies, the prevalence of WPH among nurses reaches up to 76% and in another study conducted in private and public hospitals, the overall prevalence of workplace harassment among nurses in Karachi is around 82%.

According to (Yang et al., 2018), “WPH can negatively affect both the physical and psychological state of health workers and lead to low work motivation of staff”. It also negatively affects an organization’s reputation by causing professional and professional dissatisfaction, increased absenteeism and increased resignations.
There are many harassment laws around the world that vary by context. However, workplace harassment, especially for women, was addressed by a bill in 2010 in Pakistan. According to the Protection against Harassment of Women at Work Act 2010, the process consists of three main stages. First, the holding of an investigative committee made up of people of authority. Second, the procedure for holding a confidential investigation. The third step is disciplinary action and sanctions. Likewise, each institution has defined its organizational policies and its protocol to be followed to reduce WPH in the light of national legislation. The only point to consider in the national law is that it covers a female gender and that no law has been adopted for men harassed in the workplace. Nonetheless, AKUH policy guarantees fairness to every employee in its organization in its harassment policy, regardless of gender and designation, which is handled by the HR Safe Disclosure Committee (AKUH Harassment Policy 2010) .

Lappert’s Theory of Change is based on the model which explains a problem holistically and significantly helps overcome WPH. It consists of seven phases that begin with diagnosing and knowing the severity of WPH. Somani and Khawaja (2014) reported that most workplace harassment goes unnoticed in most health systems. To deal with a worrying situation, we must recruit other multidisciplinary teams, that is to say safety and security. The following phases consist of assessing the motivation and resources for change, with an emphasis on bringing about a gradual change, setting goals and plans to deal with and combat harassment in the workplace. Individuals are assigned roles and responsibilities to sustain change through realistic and achievable goals. The last phase concerns the end of the external change agent, but the internal remains active throughout. According to Roussel (2013), for advice and reinforcement, the change agent remains available. Therefore, to support the staff, the nurse manager must be there and guide them accordingly.

Tackling harassment at work at both individual and organizational level is another big step forward. Victims can face many challenges because in many cultures the subject of harassment is considered taboo, especially sexual harassment. So it’s common to feel insulted and ashamed about fighting harassment. Other challenges include the fear of being fired from your job, of not being promoted, of not being taken seriously, and of receiving threats. According to a prevalence study by (Karim Somani, 2011), it was found that 17.5% of nurses were afraid of negative consequences, 10% were ashamed or felt guilty to report and 47.4% did not report because they felt it was unnecessary to do so. so.

Organizations that fight harassment at work should further improve their interventions. Policies must be strictly enforced and must be properly investigated. The investigation should be carried out as soon as the complaint has been filed, as a delay may reduce the seriousness of the complaint and the offender may not obtain the required sanction. In addition, management must instill the spirit of its employees. on the harmful consequences of any type of harassment in the workplace through appropriate training on the handling and management of harassment at work. In addition, there should be multiple reporting channels that ensure high confidentiality and these should be easily accessible to every employee.

In conclusion, harassment is one of the serious conditions that creates many challenges for healthcare workers. Globally, healthcare systems face the problems of nursing shortages and the reasons also include harassment in the workplace, as nursing is considered a profession at high risk of harassment due to its nature. daily exposure to various types of people (Maghraby et al., 2020). Harassment has become a global problem that needs to be properly addressed in a variety of ways, including ensuring strong policies and laws, proper staff training, and competent management so that employees can easily perform their jobs in a safe environment.

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