Sexual Harassment and Cardiothoracic Surgery: #UsToo?

Duy Khanh P. Ceppa, Scott C. Dolejs, Natalie Boden, Sean Phelan, Katherine J. Yost, Jessica Donington, Keith S. Naunheim, Shanda Blackmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Fifty-eight percent of women in science, engineering, and medicine report being affected by sexual harassment (SH). This study sought to determine the extent of SH in cardiothoracic surgery. Methods: The study developed a survey that was based on the Sexual Experience Questionnaire-Workplace, physician wellness, and burnout surveys. The survey was open to responses for 45 days and was disseminated through The Society of Thoracic Surgeons, Women in Thoracic Surgery, and Thoracic Surgery Residents Association listservs. A reminder email was issued at 28 days. Student t tests, Fisher exact tests, and χ2 tests were used to compare results. Results: Of 790 respondents, 75% were male and 82% were attending surgeons. A total of 81% of female surgeons vs 46% of male attending surgeons experienced SH (P < .001). SH also was reported by trainees (90% female vs 32% male; P < .001). According to women, the most common offenders were supervising leaders and colleagues; for men, it was ancillary staff and colleagues. Respondents reported SH at all levels of training. A total of 75% of women surgeons vs 51% of men surgeons witnessed a colleague be subjected to SH; 89% of respondents reported the victim as female (male 2%, both 9%; P < .001). A total of 49% of female witnesses (50% of male witnesses) reported no intervention; less than 5% of respondents reported the offender to a governing board. SH was positively associated with burnout. Conclusions: SH is present in cardiothoracic surgery among faculty and trainees. Although women surgeons are more commonly affected, male surgeons also are subjected to SH. Despite witnessed events, intervention currently is limited. Policies, safeguards, and bystander training should be instituted to decrease these events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1283-1288
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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