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Evaluating Bystander Intervention Training to Address Patient Harassment at the Veterans Health Administration.

Relyea MR, Portnoy GA, Klap R, Yano EM, Fodor A, Keith JA, Driver JA, Brandt CA, Haskell SG, Adams L. Evaluating Bystander Intervention Training to Address Patient Harassment at the Veterans Health Administration. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. 2020 Sep 1; 30(5):320-329.

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PURPOSE: One in four women veteran patients report experiencing sexual and gender harassment when attending the Veterans Health Administration (VA) for health care. Bystander intervention-training community members how to intervene when witnessing inappropriate behaviors-is a common approach for addressing harassment in school and military settings. We evaluated implementation of a VA harassment awareness and bystander intervention training that teaches health care staff how to identify and intervene in the harassment of women veteran patients. METHODS: Participants included 180 VA staff, including both providers and administrative staff from one VA state health care system, who participated in harassment training during the first year of implementation. Pretest and post-test evaluation surveys included questions on acceptability of training length and relevance, staff experiences with harassment, perceptions of the training, and four short-term attitudinal outcomes: awareness of harassment, barriers to intervening, self-efficacy for intervening, and intentions to intervene. RESULTS: At pretest, most staff reported witnessing harassment, yet fewer than one-half had intervened. By post-test, staff reported significantly decreased barriers to intervening and increased awareness, self-efficacy, and intentions to intervene. Belief that harassment is a problem increased from 42.4% to 75.0%. The majority of staff found the training relevant and appropriate in length. Staff felt the most useful aspects of the training were learning how to intervene, group discussion, effective facilitation, and information on harassment. CONCLUSIONS: We found that a bystander approach was acceptable to health care staff and efficacious on short-term outcomes. Bystander intervention may be a promising strategy to address harassment among patients in medical facilities.

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