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Women Veterans' Experiences of Harassment and Perceptions of Veterans Affairs Health Care Settings During a National Anti-Harassment Campaign.

Fenwick KM, Golden RE, Frayne SM, Hamilton AB, Yano EM, Carney DV, Klap R, VA Women. Women Veterans' Experiences of Harassment and Perceptions of Veterans Affairs Health Care Settings During a National Anti-Harassment Campaign. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. 2021 Nov 1; 31(6):567-575.

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Abstract:

PURPOSE: In 2017, Veterans Health Administration (VA) launched a social marketing and training campaign to address harassment of women veterans at VA health care facilities. We assessed women veterans' experiences of harassment, reported perpetrators of harassment, and perceptions of VA in 2017 (before campaign launch) and 2018 (1 year after campaign implementation). METHODS: We administered surveys to women veterans attending primary care appointments (2017, n  =  1,300; 2018, n  =  1,711). Participants reported whether they experienced sexual harassment (e.g., catcalls) and gender harassment (e.g., questioning women's veteran status) from patients and/or staff at VA in the past 6 months. They also indicated whether they felt welcome, felt safe, and believed the VA is working to address harassment. We compared variables in 2017 versus 2018 with analyses, adjusting for facility-level clustering. RESULTS: There were no significant differences in percentages of participants reporting sexual harassment (20% vs. 17%) or gender harassment (11% vs. 11%) in 2017 versus 2018. Men veterans were the most frequently named perpetrators, but participants also reported harassment from staff. Participant beliefs that VA is working to address harassment significantly improved from 2017 to 2018 (52% vs. 57%; p  =  .05). CONCLUSIONS: One year after campaign launch, women veterans continued to experience harassment while accessing VA health care services. Findings confirm that ongoing efforts to address and monitor both staff- and patient-perpetrated harassment are essential. Results have implications for future anti-harassment intervention design and implementation and highlight additional opportunities for investigation.





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