Prevalence and Risk of Inappropriate Sexual Behavior of Patients Toward Physical Therapist Clinicians and Students in the United States.
Adult; Female; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Physical Therapy Specialty; Physician-Patient Relations; Prevalence; Retrospective Studies; Risk; Risk Factors; Sex Offenses; Sexual Behavior; United States
Background: For health care providers in the United States, the risk for nonfatal violence in the workplace is 16 times greater than that for other workers. Inappropriate patient sexual behavior (IPSB) is directed at clinicians, staff, or other patients and may include leering, sexual remarks, deliberate touching, indecent exposure, and sexual assault. Inappropriate patient sexual behavior may adversely affect clinicians, the organization, or patients themselves. Few IPSB risk factors for physical therapists have been confirmed. The US prevalence was last assessed in the 1990s.
Objective: The objectives of this study were to determine career and 12-month exposure to IPSB among US physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, physical therapist students, and physical therapist assistant students and to identify IPSB risk factors.
Design: This was a retrospective and observational study.
Methods: An electronic survey was developed; content validity and test-retest reliability were established. Participants were recruited through physical therapist and physical therapist assistant academic programs and sections of the American Physical Therapy Association. Inappropriate patient sexual behavior risk models were constructed individually for any, mild, moderate, and severe IPSB events reported over the past 12 months. Open-ended comments were analyzed using qualitative methods.
Results: Eight hundred ninety-two physical therapist professionals and students completed the survey. The career prevalence among respondents was 84%, and the 12-month prevalence was 47%. Statistical risk modeling for any IPSB over the past 12 months indicated the following risks: having fewer years of direct patient care, routinely working with patients with cognitive impairments, being a female practitioner, and treating male patients. Qualitative analysis of 187 open-ended comments revealed patient-related characteristics, provider-related characteristics, and abusive actions.
Limitations: Self-report, clinician memory, and convenience sampling are limitations of this type of survey research.
Conclusions: The extremely high prevalence of IPSB among physical therapist professionals warrants practitioner and student education as well as clear workplace policy and support.
Boissonnault, Jill S; Cambier, Ziádee; Hetzel, Scott J; and Plack, Margaret M, "Prevalence and Risk of Inappropriate Sexual Behavior of Patients Toward Physical Therapist Clinicians and Students in the United States." (2017). Articles, Abstracts, and Reports. 1772.