Workplace Harassment Linked to Long-Term Health Problems for Victims


Workplace sexual harassment and bullying continue to pose serious occupational health problems for victims.


Workplace harassment is tied directly to a variety of physical and psychological problems, including higher rates of stress, loss of sleep, depression and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a study from Ball State University.

Jagdish Khubchandani, a community health education professor at Ball State and the study’s lead author, said the results clearly shows that the American workers are being exposed to harassment and are their health is suffering.

“Harassment or bullying suffered by American employees is severe and extremely costly for employers across the country,” he said. “Harassment harms victims, witnesses and organizations where such interactions occur.”

The humiliation and ridicule of workplace harassment causes victims to have low self-esteem, concentration difficulties, anger, lower life satisfaction, reduced productivity and increased absenteeism, said Khubchandani, who coauthored the study with James Price, a faculty member at the University of Toledo.

A new ABC News-Washington Post poll found that more than half of all American women—54%—have experienced “unwanted and inappropriate sexual advances” at some point in their lives. Thirty percent of women have endured such behavior from male colleagues and 25% identified men with sway over their careers as the culprits. The poll found that, all told, 33 million U.S. women have been sexually harassed—and 14 million sexually abused—in work-related episodes.Yet nearly all women—95%—report that male perpetrators of such abuse usually go unpunished.

In regard to the types of health problems that surfaced, the study from Ball State University found that over a 12-month period:

– Female victims reported higher rates of psychosocial distress, smoking and pain disorders like migraine and neck pain.

– Male victims were more likely to miss more than two weeks of work and suffer from asthma, ulcers and worsening of general health in the past year.

– In addition, male victims were more likely to have ever been diagnosed with hypertension and angina pectoris.

– Victims of harassment were more likely to obese and smoke.

According to a new NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll, only about one in five of those working today said they recently had been involved in discussions or training, or seen changes in policy, unfortunately.

Harassment and bullying prevention training is clearly a continuing, chronic occupational health problem in the modern workplace. Proper training must become an essential tool for ensuring the long-term safety of all employees.

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