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Staff and Patient Perspectives on Bystander Intervention Training to Address Patient-Initiated Sexual Harassment in Veterans Affairs Healthcare Settings.
Fenwick KM, Potter SJ, Klap R, Dyer KE, Relyea MR, Yano EM, Luger TM, Bergman AA, Chrystal JG, Hamilton AB. Staff and Patient Perspectives on Bystander Intervention Training to Address Patient-Initiated Sexual Harassment in Veterans Affairs Healthcare Settings. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. 2021 Nov 1; 31(6):576-585.
One in four women veteran patients experience public harassment by men veterans at Veterans Affairs (VA) health care facilities. Bystander intervention training-teaching bystanders to identify harassment, assess appropriate responses, and safely intervene before, during, or after an event-is a popular strategy for addressing harassment in military and education settings. We explored staff and veteran patient perspectives on bystander intervention training to address harassment of women veterans in VA health care settings.
We conducted 24 staff interviews and 15 veteran patient discussion groups (eight men's groups and seven women's groups) at four VA Medical Centers. We analyzed transcripts using the constant comparative method.
Participants expressed divergent views about bystander intervention training to address harassment of women veteran patients at VA. Most participants supported training staff in bystander intervention, but support for training patients was mixed. Participants identified potential benefits of bystander intervention, including staff and patient empowerment and improvements to organizational culture. They also identified potential concerns, including provocation of conflict between patients, lack of buy-in among the VA community, and difficulty in identifying intervention-appropriate situations. Finally, participants offered recommendations for tailoring training content and format to the VA context.
Bystander intervention training has the potential to raise collective responsibility for addressing harassment of women in VA and other health care contexts. However, our results illustrate divergent stakeholder views that underscore the importance of engaging and educating stakeholders, securing buy-in, and tailoring bystander intervention programs to local contexts before implementation.